Review by Nikki Mitchell
Redead by Tim Gould is a humorous and witty take on an anti-hero’s experience in a zombie apocalypse. The main characters are from lower Michigan and make their way into the U.P. over the course of the book. Instead of chapters, the book is told in “tracks,” beginning with track one: the start of the main character’s day. While he thinks he’s only running late for a meet-up with his female best friend, it turns into much more than that and their meal is interrupted by an outbreak of zombies in the restaurant kitchen. The humor starts here, as he tries to save his best friend and his burrito at the same time while avoiding zombie bites.
This is definitely not your typical zombie book, and for that I was thankful. It was much more about how an actual event would transpire, as most of us Michiganders are not prepared for this situation. Terrible winters, yes. Zombies at roadside parks? Not quite. The dialogue kept the book moving at a surprisingly fast pace, and I found myself tearing through each track, eager to see what else could go wrong. The anti-hero and his best friend pick up a few comrades along the way—a frat boy that everyone hates, and a nurse from the hospital.
The depiction of the zombies was absolutely hilarious, and more fitting than what you would see in the more serious zombie movies and books. They pop up everywhere from the roadside park to the gas station where our anti-hero is just trying to find himself a Mountain Dew. I loved the banter and the fighting between the crew as well because it felt real. You stick four people with different lives in one vehicle, you’re going to have disagreements on how to survive. The burrito scene along with taking out the zombie with a knock-off designer purse was one of my favorites. Spoiler alert: the burrito dies.
Then about halfway through the book, we get a major plot twist and characters reveal their true identities, which again, leaves the reader flipping through the pages to see what’s going to happen next. The suspense just keeps building, as does the humor. Readers discover the government’s involvement in the outbreak at the same time our anti-hero does. We also learn more about him, his past and the mental load he is carrying. His hallucinations were both very concerning and funny at the same time.
The track titles for the chapter heads are perfect for an apocalyptic world, and I thought that was well done. The only thing that really pulled me out of the book was when the characters were speaking about Michigan. It seemed as though those parts were being said by people who had never been to Michigan and definitely didn’t live there. I don’t know many people that will call northern Michigan the “northern part of the lower peninsula” and then say “Upper Peninsula” in one sentence, especially in a conversation about the safest place to hide. The characters were living in the state, and I think they would be more likely to say, “up north” or “U.P.” It happens a few other times in the second half of the book as well. While I understand readers outside of Michigan might not pick up on the way we talk about our state, in dialogue it is necessary for the characters to be true to the local vernacular.
Redead reminded me a lot of Shaun of the Dead and other stories poking fun at zombies and those trying to stay human. I felt very connected to the main character, as I would have absolutely no idea how to survive and would probably stay hidden in the U.P. as well. Honestly, if I thought it was my last day on earth, I’d probably try to save the food and stop for a pop along the way too.
While humorous at its core, it also had important values of friendship, love, and what that would look like when someone you care about is about to turn into a brain-craving zombie. I have already recommended this book to a few of my friends and would tell fans of zombies, anti-heroes, and dialogue-heavy fiction to pick up a copy of Redead.