cover image The Gospel of Z

The Gospel of Z

Stephen Graham Jones. Samhain, $5.50 e-book (275p) ISBN 978-1-61921-723-2

Jones (Zombie Bake-Off) invigorates the crowded fictional zombiescape with laconically disillusioned characters whose story recalls Camus’s The Plague more than Brooks’s World War Z. With no grand battles or gory preamble, the story opens 10 years after the undead begin to rise. Occasional sketches of backstory flutter like shadows and ground readers in the dislocation of the characters, who are mostly going through the motions of existing. No one embodies this atmosphere of existentialism draining into nihilism better than Jory Gray, a 30-something man for whom life has become an exhausted question of why to survive rather than how. Recently demoted to Preburial, a job with a life expectancy of less than a week, he works in concert with one of Jones’s more intriguing additions to the genre: Handlers, genetically modified zombie cyborgs whose purpose is to aid humans in determining whether the recently deceased are likely to revive. Gripping moments of horror are expertly rendered, flashes of spot-on hilarity provide depth as well as levity, and the flickering humanity of the characters will resonate powerfully with readers. (Jan.)