Cannonball Read is back for its fifth year, honoring the memory of the late great AlabamaPink with a friendly reading competition for charity. Won't you click on over and read about some great books? Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues picks up right where My Life as a White Trash Zombie left off. New zombie/morgue assistant Angel Crawford is finally pulling her life together after years of bad choices. Too bad she becomes the only witness to a robbery at the morgue where the only stolen item is a body that hasn't been checked in yet. Suspicion falls on Angel because of her criminal background even though the main theory--losing the body during transport--seems unlikely.
Diana Rowland spent a lot of time building Angel's world in My Life as a White Trash Zombie, including a whole new set of rules for zombies. These are not the mindless drones of a Romero film; they are immortal beings perfectly capable of living normal lives so long as they consume human brains a few times a week. Physical exertion and starvation cause deterioration and more traditional zombie behavior. Crime syndicates have formed to provide brains to the small zombie population and the largest group has their own ethical standards for when a person can be turned.
Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues is a fast-moving story with lots of unexpected twists and turns. You know pretty quickly who is responsible for the opening theft. That turns out to be a pretty masterful red herring for the real conflicts in the story. The hint of a zombie mob from the first book becomes a driving force in the second, adding extra layers of complexity to Angel's life.
Perhaps the strongest aspect of the novel is Angel Crawford's growth. She has become a really independent character. She's forced to take responsibility for her own life after a month of being spoon fed the new rules and she's ready to take on all challenges.
Her independence actually teaches her to trust other people again. Her strong work ethic at the morgue nets her strong allies who are always there to offer advice and support if she needs it. From tracking down evidence related to the theft to studying for her GED, her new allies are willing to help. Angel, in turn, makes it a point to help out her alcoholic father and other struggling characters in the book. It's a very rewarding direction for the character, one that I hope continues in the series.
Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues puts the focus on character and story. It's a much more engaging read than the original book because Rowland doesn't have to linger on backstory and world-building. The story is clever and shows a lot of proemise for a less-serious urban fantasy/procedural series. Levity is a good thing when you're writing zombie protagonists.
Have you read Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues? What did you think? Sound off below.