Select one of the keywords
The Living Dead    edited by John Joseph Adams order for
Living Dead
by John Joseph Adams
Order:  USA  Can
Night Shade, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

After the success of John Joseph Adams' anthology Wastelands: Stores of the Apocalypse, he returns with a new fantastic collection, The Living Dead, with stories from the greatest horror fiction writers in publication: Stephen King, Clive Barker, Laurel K. Hamilton, Neil Gaiman, Dan Simmons, and many others. It is a fascinating collection which proves to the reader that no zombie story is the same and shows what amazing settings and situations authors can create to involve zombies.

In the first story, from Dan Simmons, This Year's Class Picture, Ms. Geiss, a former high school teacher, has barricaded herself in her old school. A barbed wire fence and wall surround the school, along with a moat filled with gasoline. Geiss spends her days with her class of zombie children. After hitting them with a tranquilizer, she chained them to their chairs and each day shows them pictures of humanity, the beauty of the world, and the greatness of the human race, trying to make a connection, trying to get a reaction. But each day she is greeted by dead stares in faces with eyes hungry for human flesh.

In Neil Gaiman's Bitter Grounds, the narrator has had enough of his life and just up and leaves one day. Meeting an anthropology professor presenting a paper on zombies in New Orleans, he steals the man's identity and, never expecting to go through with it, finds himself in New Orleans being the professor. At night in the streets of the old city, he meets some people that he later considers may not be human. He presents the paper as the professor, partly believing in its intention, especially after his experiences of the night before.

In The Dead Kid from Darrell Schweitzer, young David wants to hang out with the big kids; he wants to be like them so they'll stop bullying him. So one day they show him the dead kid: a very young child trapped in a box in a cave in the forest. It is very pale, with twin empty sockets where the eyes should be, and spends its days slowly writhing, trying to get free from its prison.

The Living Dead is a sobering read in that it reveals to readers the horrors of which zombies are capable, but also presents the dark side of humanity when pitted against these walking corpses. The idea of the zombie forces one to face the reality of death and how it might be cheated. But when the cost is to become something that is dead but alive, incredibly stupid, and hungers for flesh, it makes one yearn for an undisturbed grave.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Fantasy books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews