Monday, August 6, 2012

Review of I've Been Deader by Adam Sifre

Review of I've Been Deader by Adam Sifre

One of my biggest pet peeves EVER is when I see a movie preview, and it looks cute and funny--a comedy--and then I go to the movie and it is depressing as sh*t and I want to fling myself off a bridge. Not cool. If your movie is depressing or intense or heavy or serious, the preview should not look like a comedy. That is false advertising.

Yeah, I know why people do this. To get folks to go see the freakin' movie. If folks thought the film was so depressing that they would curl up in the fetal position, no one would go. But I feel duped when that happens.

OK, now onto what is probably the strangest book I will read all year, and one that I am very conflicted about. It's I've Been Deader by Adam Sifre. The book blurb makes it look like a zombie romance/comedy. Here's the blurb...

Being a zombie is no picnic and it's one hell of a handicap in the romance department when you fall in love with a 'breather': Aleta is a breather with short blonde hair and brown eyes - two of them! - and the whitest smile Fred has ever seen. Every day at a certain time she sits at her window, and every day he stands in the rubble across the street among a crowd of zombies waiting to break through the fence and eat her. 'You are beautiful, like an angel', he thinks, but all he can moan is, “Braaaiiinss." Still, as zombies go, Fred's quite a catch. Underneath all the gangrene and rot, Fred is different. This girl will probably turn out to be yet another dead end, an infatuation, someone whose image he cannot get out of his mind and whose taste he cannot get out of his mouth, but the heart wants what the heart wants. For breathers, it is always only a matter of time, however beautiful they are and whatever the government is assuring people. Which makes Fred sad because he has a beautiful 11 year old son called Timmy, and Timmy may still be alive.

This book was recommended on the Amazon boards (I realized later that it was the indie author himself rec'ing his own book). It was 99 cents. And I LOVE funny zombie stuff. I've seen several other so-called "zombie-romance-comedy" series, and I thought I would give this one a go. Here are my assorted observations about this book....

1. This is by far one of the best-written indie books I've ever read. Except for one minor head-hopping issue early in the book, it is incredibly well-written. No typos, no grammatical errors, and pitch-perfect writing. I'm impressed with Sifre's grasp of craft--this book reads like it's been written by a well-seasoned author. 

2. The beginning of this book is bloody brilliant. It is crisp, snappy, funny. The pacing is perfect. There are a million hilarious one-liners. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Shaun of the Dead. There is nothing better than blending comedy and horror when it's done right. When it's done right, it's the balls. And the beginning of this book was A+ all....the.....way.

3. Sigh. And then something happened. Sifre started throwing in a lot of POVs. I'm fine with that. I was getting a very strong Stephen King vibe. Very similar to The Stand, one of my favorite books. I love how SK has a ton of unconnected POVs at the beginning, and as the story threads come together, the reader gets to see how these seemingly unrelated characters and events are connected.

The pseudo-romance is actually nothing, and over with before it begins. Right at the beginning of the book. But the storyline in I've Been Deader is very engaging, and I couldn't wait to find out what happens.

That is until Sifre switched this book from comedy to horror. If you're going to blend 2 genres, you gotta blend them. The beginning was perfect. But once he left the humor behind and jumped totally into Stephen King grotesque/touching on paranormal/drug-addled, ultra violent, disturbing, with nary a bit of humor in sight, he lost me. I didn't sign up for that. I signed up for cute, funny, quirky.

Funny thing is, the horror part is also very good. If the book had maintained some consistency either way--either a funny horror bit, or a straight-up grotesque horror novel--it would have been great. But these 2 genres were not blended, they just switched half-way through the book.

I made it to about 80% through, and then I DNFed it. I no longer cared what happened to any of the freakin' characters.

4. So, I'm not sure I can actually rate this book. Based on the writing, the success of the comedy at the beginning and the success of the horror portion--separate from the rest of the novel--I would give it an "A" or 5 stars. But unfortunately, the huge disconnect between the beginning of this story and then second half, as well as the misleading book blurb, would give it a failing grade. 

This is definitely a book with an identity crisis. But I am extremely impressed with Sifre's writing. He is very talented and I would try another one of his books. 

5. The cover is so disgusting, I didn't feel right about posting it here. If you would like to see it (preferably BEFORE eating), here's the linkie.

Grade: DNF

Jonesing for Shaun of the Dead,