Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Complete Double Dead

Coburn is a vampire who wakes up expecting a world full of tasty morsels, but finds one full of disgusting walking corpses instead. This new world sucks and obviously he missed something crazy during his involuntary nap, so he goes in search of food. Instead, he finds a sickly girl with healing powers and an entourage of annoying people. They convince him to protect them and promise to lead him to people he can eat who deserve a bloody, painful death. The most uncomfortable alliance is born as he follows them across the countryside. His journey with them starts as a purely selfish venture, but it takes him on an emotional and violent rollercoaster he never expected.

The Complete Double Dead contains Chuck Wendig's first novel Double Dead and it's follow up Bad Blood all starring vampire Coburn. He is a horrible person (unperson?): completely selfish, bloodthirsty, and indiscriminately violent. But somehow I like him all the same, kind of like Ash from Evil Dead. He has a delightfully snarky running commentary even in the most dire of situations. The attack that caused his 5 year long nap was inevitable from some wannabe vampire hunters, but he flipped them off even in the end when he had no hope. Vampires in this story are incredibly resilient, but need a lot of blood to heal. Many times, Coburn keeps fighting through multiple severed limbs, being gnawed by zombies, being burned, and tons of other abuse. Through all of his sarcasm and rudeness, a sympathy and humanity is awakening in him slowly. He still isn't necessarily nice, but he actually cares a little bit and eventually genuinely wants to do what's right.

When Coburn wakes up, it's already been a few years into the zombie apocalypse. Civilization as we know it is dead and people live in small groups together or in deranged larger societies. One was a society of Juggalos (rabid fans of Insane Clown Posse) who controlled a military base full of weapons and rockets. Their whole deal was acting crazy, calling each other weird names, and leading hedonistic lives. Another society was run by cannibals and led by an extremely obese matriarch. Both groups had crazy characters, disgusting situations, and over the top gore. It's definitely not for the faint of heart. Dark humor pervades everything with Coburn's sarcastic voice.

This book has tons of zombies. They are slow moving and the disease is transmitted through bites and blood like usual. A new creature is introduced when Coburn is surrounded by zombies and one gets a good bite in. This zombie with Coburn's blood becomes smarter, faster, and more deadly than the rest and chases after Coburn with intensity. The Hunters can make others and a whole pack of them eventually hunt the unfortunate vampire in addition to the huge hordes of zombies walking around. I thought the concept of having zombies and vampires in the same world would be too much, but it works rather well together. The vampire's food source is threatened and he has to work to save them for his own self preservation before his moral compass even kicks in.

The story has many twists and turns. Some of the revelations are outlandish to say the least. I would usually hate that, but it worked in a weird way within this over the top world. I would highly recommend this to lovers of vampire and zombie stories alike. I hope Chuck Wendig revisits at least the world eventually if not the same characters. I enjoyed his writing overall. Some of it was a little too much telling rather than showing, but I would bet his writing has improved over time. The fact that Bad Blood was his first novel is amazing. I'm looking to read his new novel Invasive soon.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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