Monday, September 2, 2013


When they first see the little girl in the umbrella socks devouring a rottweiler, Chase Daniels and Typewriter John figure they are just having a bad trip and dismiss the horrible vision. They can no longer ignore it when it starts chasing after them, causing Type to kill the little monster. Chase freaks out, convinced they are going to be thrown in jail, but the streets are suspiciously empty. They finally realize what happened: the zombie apocalypse has finally happened. So of course these two worry about their meth habit before anything else and go find the Albino, their meth supplier. Through some dubious reasoning, Chase, John, the Albino, and Chase's ex KK discover that the meth is keeping them from being zombies. Together they have to ration the meth, make more, and fight off zombies and other humans in order to survive.

Fiend isn't the typical zombie novel and Chase is not a typical hero. He's kind of a fuck-up who has allowed meth to drive away his family, his friends, and his girlfriend. He and Typewriter didn't even realize the zombie apocalypse was going on because they were on a week long binge. Meth colors his life and ties everything together. The arrival of zombies doesn't change this and even exacerbates it after they discover the key to staying human and alive is in meth. The only real change the new zombified world brings is getting rid of law and creating a legitimate reason to stay on the drug. Because of Chase's dependence, he doesn't always think clearly or makes decisions based on his own needs and addictions rather than what would actually benefit everyone. He can get downright annoying and isn't even particularly likeable, but this is the hero we have.

The narrative is in the first person and follows Chase's weird stream of consciousness, going backward and forward in time and reflecting his bipolar-like moods as he goes from the joy of being high to the paranoia when drugs run low to the hell of craving more and everything in between. The dialog has no quotation marks, making it hard to tell who is speaking for even if Chase is thinking or talking aloud. It succeeds in making the reader feel off balance, a little confused, and a taste of how an altered state would feel. The descriptions are tactile, disgusting, and darkly comical from the zombies to the disturbing habits of the addicts.

As much as I liked the concept, the characters are painfully annoying. They are all drug addicts who one moment are creating a drug fueled utopia and the next stabbing each other in the back. It's realistic and accurate, but they just whined about their lives and then continually made the same bad decisions that ruined their lives in the first place. Every character is greedy and selfish, ready to screw each other over for a hit. I grew tired to them and they grated on nerves over the course of the novel. The only flaw I saw in the writing was the ridiculously abrupt ending. I turned the page expecting a new chapter and found it blank.

This novel has zombies, but the focus is on drug addiction. The zombies are slightly different because they laugh instead of moan, which is creep. They provided motivation for the story and drove the plot forward, but they aren't what makes the novel special. The gore in the novel is pretty spectacular and described in vivid detail. I would recommend this more for people into drug fiction rather than zombie books, but adventurous zombie fans might enjoy it.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

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