cover image The Living Dead

The Living Dead

George A. Romero and Daniel Kraus. Tor, $27.99 (656p) ISBN 978-1-250-30512-1

Filmmaker Romero (1940–2017), best known for Night of the Living Dead, offers a sweeping look at the rise, fall, and rebirth of humanity in the face of a zombie menace in this long-winded horror novel, posthumously completed by Kraus (Bent Heavens). Patient zero appears in “the early months of the 21st century,” when a John Doe is registered to the U.S. Census Bureau twice: once upon his death and again after the medical examiner shoots his reawakened body. From there the virus spreads, reaching a large but underdeveloped cast, among them a teenager living in a trailer park, a news anchor who sequesters himself in his studio to continuously broadcast news of the zombie panic even after he’s no longer sure if anyone’s watching, and a chaplain aboard the USS Olympia who slowly goes mad. Throughout, the zombie threat is granted its own, second-person perspective: “You are hungry. You wake up. In that order.” In this innovation alone Romero paints a fresher picture of the zombie apocalypse, following the zombie’s perspective 15 years into the future to examine the lifespan and evolution of the creatures. Otherwise, this doorstopper reads like an extended cut of Romero’s horror films. This belabored amalgamation of zombie tropes is epic but familiar. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts Entertainment. (Aug.)