The Blurb on Other People’s Words – First Time Dead

May 17, 2011 at 1:11 am (writing)

I wanted to review First Time Dead, Volume 2 this week, but it didn’t seem right to review it without Volume 1. The problem is that Volume 1 includes one of my stories so it feels a little awkward including it in my review. To be fair, the other stories in the anthology deserve to be addressed, so I am going to include a review of them – and I hope you excuse the indiscretion:

First Time Dead 1

Anthology, Todd Brown (Editor)

I may be biased because it included one of my stories, but I really enjoyed this anthology. I’m a big fan of zombie tales, which is why I write them, but I was quite thrilled to be included with such a wide array of fresh horror talent. What I like most about both volumes is the varying perspectives on the zombie themes. Despite the fact that it is an old idea, the stories were pleasantly original and spanned a range of morbid humour to horrific realism. Here are some of my favourite stories (although I enjoyed them all):

Hello Again – A good look on how zombification can impact a relationship and some of the choices and sacrifices we might have to make regarding a love one caught in the apocalypse – a good intro for the anthology

Everything I Know About Zombies I Learned From Star Trek. My favourite story in the anthology – a novel approach with fantastic characterization and concepts I definitely haven’t seen in a zombie story before.

He’s Not Heavy- I loved the backdrop to this tale – a complex story that needs to be read carefully because of the social commentary interwoven into the plot. Despite its complexity it manages to hold your interest right to the end.

Death By Dad – Really good pacing and I liked the switch-up in viewpoint. A close-to-home feel that really grabs you.

The Overpass – A gripping story that captures the environment one might expect to encounter after the apocalypse. You can see that return to a tribal method of survival that society may resort to in response on the new struggles faced when we are no longer at the top of the food chain.

Big kudos to May December for finding such a colourful combination of tales that breathes life into the undead.

First Time Dead 2

Anthology, Todd Brown (Editor)

The problem with reviewing an anthology is that if it is well-assembled with a broad selection of styles and a variety of approaches, some of the stories will really grab you while some will only mildly entertain you. I gave the anthology a five star rating because from my perspective, all of the stories were well written and the full spectrum of the zombie horror sub-genre was addressed, but some of the stories did appeal to me more than others. I have no preference between the dumb shamblers and the smart fast zombies , but I do prefer a building of suspense, a focus on the human condition, and if it is appropriate to the particular story, an element of humour (I personally think zombies are hilarious). I know other lovers of the genre want instant action, in your face stories with lots of shock value and gore – not so much my cup of tea. However, this anthology has something for everyone.

Picking favourites is difficult for me, because several of the stories struck a chord with me, but there were a few that got me particularly excited.

Ooky by Matthew R. Davis – I loved this one for several reasons; it piqued my curiosity from the start and offered a quirky, sexy twist to the zombie story. It was funny enough to make me laugh out loud (that doesn’t happen often when I’m reading.)

Once More without Feelings by Joe Blevins – This one really captured that human condition element as well as the flavour of a different era. It also had a touch of humour.

The Hungriest Zombie by Jason Thacker – The way it read like a nature documentary was really clever, and once again, good dark humour.

There were a few others I have to commend for a good demonstration of sentiment and solid writing, including: Last Legacy by Amanda Larson, The Mission by Eric Pellerine, Zombie by Night by Aaron Phillips and Rude Awakening by David Maynard.

If you love zombies, you can’t go wrong by picking up this anthology.

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