Double Dead by Chuck Wendig: review.

Double Dead (Double Dead, #1)Double Dead by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The premise of this book is so cool that after reading it any Fantasy Author will say “Why didn’t I think of that?!” Or maybe it’s just me.

Coburn the Vampire wakes up post apocalypse in a world overrun by zombies. To a hungry Vampire, humans have gone from a fast food level of availability to foraging in the desert in July levels. They are very hard to come by and when he does find them he has to fight the zombies for them. If that isn’t an awesome concept, I don’t know what is.

In order to survive he forges a fragile alliance with a group of people who promise to offer him some of their blood in exchange for his help in fighting the zombies while they try to find a safe place to stay. They, of course, run into a lot of undesirable characters and compromising situations during their journey but Coburn helps them through it all as his humanity slowly overcomes his baser side.

The story is one we’ve all seen before in the post apocalypse spectrum. The world is full of danger; good people turn bad due to circumstance and commit terrible atrocities in the name of survival, but it’s done well and is convincing.

In many ways this book reminded me of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ in its harshness, imagination and emotion. I have said this before but I’ll say it again: Chuck Wending is this generation’s Stephen King. He writes with grit and doesn’t spare any punches, only his is a more millennial style. He is more concise in the creation of his universes, but no less rich, and the work never suffers. He just knows that readers today want to get there faster.

I don’t mind that. If I’m being perfectly honest I’ve yet to see anyone reach King’s levels of character development or world building and neither would I want to; King is King and Wendig is Wendig. I make the comparison simply as a way of highlighting his skill level.

Double Dead is part of a series of Coburn the Vampire books so I was left with a few questions about how he came to be and why some characters exhibited certain abilities. I was also slightly irked by the fact that he’s virtually indestructible, but his weaknesses fill that void. In all I would have like a little more background on Coburn but no doubt that’s to come later.

Great crossover of the Zombie and Vampire genres.

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Dead Until Dark Review

Though a big fan of Tru Blood I’d never actually read a Sookie Stackhouse book before. I’m not into modern Vampires as I am into historical ones, my book case in point, but this has been in the ‘To Be Read pile’ for quite some time and will be part of several upcoming reviews on Fantasy books, primarily Vampire.

‘Dead until dark’ is essentially a supernatural murder mystery. It is written in the first person in the voice of Sookie and though I tend to shy away from the first person usually, this one gradually grew on me. As a rule, I have a hard time relating to first person character narration. Lines in the vein of “my eyes seemed brighter,” or “these pants show off my legs,” are not what a person would say in real life so I can rarely relate. As an author, hyper sensitive observation goes hand in hand with writing and as I don’t observe others in the first person, there is always a disconnect for me. I understand that for lots of people books in the first person offer a very personal experience so I appreciate that it’s very much a matter of taste. In addition to that narration style I also found the first few chapters a little awkward in style, maybe even a little wooden but that soon worked itself out.

Besides Sookie, the telepath waitress with the fascination with Vampires, the book deals with a series of murders that take place in Bon Temps at a time when Vampire emancipation and mainstreaming is in its infancy. The Vampire transition from hiding to mainstream was handled very realistically, and if they were ever to come out of the shadows, I expect that people’s reactions would not differ much from this book.

As the days pass, Sookie becomes embroiled in the murders by conducting a little side investigation of her own because they slowly start taking over her life. First an acquaintance is killed, followed by another waitress, both of which have had dealings with her promiscuous brother causing her to worry about his involvement with the murders. When finally Sookie’s own grandmother is killed the onus is taken off Jason, at least in Sookie’s eyes, and the plot thickens when she too becomes a target for the murderer who seems to target women who have had sex with Vampires.

As the murder story slowly unfolds in the background, we are shown Sookie’s blossoming romance with Bill Compton, a Vampire from the time of the civil war. As Sookie is unable to hear his thoughts, unlike most other men, she is able to relax in his presence and build a relationship with him, though not without its complications due to their biological differences. Things take a turn for the worse when during an expedition to a Vamp club, Sookie reveals her abilities to a higher ranking Vampire called Eric, who takes a particular interest in her and begins to interfere in her life and relationship with Bill.

As a result of this, towards the end of the book, Bill is removed from the scene in order to take care of some ‘business’ leaving Sookie to deal with the fang banger murderer on her own (with only the protection of a dim witted vamp guard). Though I’m all for women’s lib and self-determination, I always find character removals at critical times a bit of cheap shot, so points were definitely lost there.

For the sake of spoilers however I will leave this here and say simply that it’s well written, moves quickly and is definitely a very enjoyable read. Despite its lightweight veneer it is imbued with a subtle political narrative about how we treat those different to us whether they are black, gay, shapeshifter or Vampire.

Dead-Until-Dark