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Book Review: Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen

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Sarah and David have hit a rut. They fight all the time; neither enjoys the other’s company; and the most trivial of issues sets their teeth to grinding. After six tortuous months of couples’ counseling, the pair has just about reached the end of its rope.

But then something wonderful happens: the couple’s therapist gets eaten. And I mean cannibal-style. That’s right, folks. The proverbial zombie apocalypse has struck again. Only this time around it’s testing more than the mere fabric of our society. It’s going after the very bonds of marriage.

After something unspeakable breaches the labs at U-Dub, Sarah and David soon find themselves in a struggle to flee the treachery of a Seattle overrun with zombies. They must take up arms, loot stores for provisions, use their wits, and, above all else, keep their cool if they wish to survive this Armageddon. For the two may well tear out each other’s throats before the undead have a chance to do the honors.

Jesse Petersen’s debut novel Married with Zombies is a bloody clever addition to zombie fiction. Her married readers are treated to plenty of spousal head-butting and the diehard fans of the undead get all the headshots, dismemberments, and arterial spattering their hearts can desire.

The two lead characters, Sarah and David, are hilariously written. They bumble about the stricken northwest, dodging the infected, making one uproarious mistake after another. And they remain at each other’s necks the entire time. Indeed, Petersen does a bang-up job of reminding readers that legions of reanimated, cannibalistic corpses are not the only things keeping our hero and heroine on edge.

But all that’s not to say Petersen has skimped on her minor characters. Quite the contrary, this struggling couple crosses paths with a plethora of outrageous, well thought-out personalities that readers won’t soon forget. Throughout the book, the audience is introduced to impossibly stupid neighbors, creepy-as-all-get-out landlords, crack-shot hillbillies and post-apocalyptic cults whose members may be just a smidgen overzealous. Best of all, though, Petersen manages to make each new encounter at once hair-raising and sidesplitting alike.

I won’t go heavy into the story’s plot because, well, it’s pretty darn straightforward: patch a marriage and try not to get devoured (literally) in the process. Besides, what this novel really revolves around is the tenuous relationship held between the hero and the heroine.

A few dramatic moments are sprinkled atop the author’s comedic debut, but they are handled carefully and in no way jar the reader. Overall, it’s a bloody good jaunt, packed complete with decapitation, evisceration, social collapse, and good old fashioned couples’ bickering. Marriage can be tough, and zombies may be brutal. But, believe me, combined, the two make for an absolute – albeit gory – delight.

Published by Orbit September 1, 2010, Married with Zombies is available in mass-market paperback (spanning 272 pages), e-book, and audio format. Petersen’s upcoming sequel, titled Flip this Zombie, is slated for release January 3, 2011 and comprises the second installment to her Living with the Dead series.

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