Title: Cheating, Death
Author: Teel McClanahan III
Page Count: 126 pages
Publisher: Modern Evil Press
Genre: horror, zombies
Copy for review provided by the author
50 words or less: “But it’s the truth. Look at that!” Ted pointed to a close-up shot of a being that could be nothing other than the walking dead trying to gnaw its way through someone’s face. “Zombies. Roaming the streets, eating people. Eating people, Sunny!”
That is a direct quote from Cheating, Death and it sums up nicely what the book is all about. The zombie apocalypse is going down in a big way in Denver, and Cheating, Death is the story of a few individuals and their attempts to survive the onslaught of zombies looking for a bite. Some of those people are kind of successful; some of them just aren't. It's hard to know which group was the luckier of the two; it's the classic battle between the diner and the dinner, so to speak.
Cheating, Death reads less like a novel and more like a short story collection, with many different tales being told at the same time. It was an interesting approach that led to there being a surprisingly large number of characters for so short a book. I mean, granted, most of these characters end up as zombie munchies, but still. It did get a little tricky keeping track of who was who and whether they'd been eaten or not.
The two characters who appeared consistently throughout the book were Melvin and Frances, a married couple, and I have to say I wish they hadn't. I found them to be rather two-dimensional and the conflict between them just made me want to brush my teeth. Melvin is a cheater and a liar; I never really got to learn anything about Frances. 'Til death do you part, people. Is it possible to nominate people to get eaten by zombies? If so then sign these two up, pronto.
Oh! Stacy the girlfriend can get volunteered to be a zombie meal too. Self-righteousness is not attractive, and I find girlfriends lecturing their adulterous boyfriends on morality to be tedious in the extreme.
In the end, though, that experience of wishing these people would just GO AWAY is a key message that's entrenched throughout Cheating, Death. In the appendix of the book, there's a line that I think sums up the wry message of the book perfectly: "Zombies spread quickly because the living are stupid, too. Too bad that for the stupid people to be cleansed in a zombie apocalypse, the smart, the innocent and the clever will probably get eaten too.
This was a quick, engaging read. I wish it had been a little more filled out with more character development. I recognize that there are other books that tell more of the story, but this was the one I was reading, and I felt a little...adrift...like I was supposed to have done a reading assignment before I started. Otherwise, it's a good place to start, and it's off the beaten path of other horror novels that are out there.
Overall Grade: B-
Time for Cheating, Death bonus features! There's currently a whole boodle of Cheating, Death content over at Blog with Bite, so check out these treats:
A Q&A with the author, Teel McClanahan III
Win a copy of Cheating, Death! The contest ends Friday 11/13 so hurry up and enter!
Fun times indeed!
Also, Mr. McClanahan is on Goodreads, and you can follow him here.