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  • Posted June 4, 2011

    Neither an intelligent social commentary, nor a thrilling zombie novel.

    One of the biggest selling points, it seems, for Pariah is the fact that it is not a typical zombie novel; it has zombies in it, but they are not the main focus of the story. Although this is an unusual aspect in a zombie novel, it is little more than that; Pariah does absolutely nothing intelligent with the plot it presents.

    Perhaps the fact that I have been spoiled by reading mainly classics, you know, books that are actually good, has made it difficult for me to appreciate a simpler novel, but I find that unlikely, because I happen to be a fanatic of zombies, vampires, and other grotesque things of the horror and science fiction genres. Therefore, let me make it clear that this book merely requires someone with sufficient knowledge of literature and modern horror novels to uncover the fact that while Pariah may attempt to combine the two, it ends up leaving both genres clumsily mashed together.

    With a book like Pariah, where there are several people holed up in an apartment complex from a zombie plague in New York City slowly starving to death, its basic plot has a lot of potential for an author with the skills to exploit them, possibly in a Lord of the Flies-esque novel; Bob Fingerman, however, is apparently neither a skillful nor intelligent author, as this book illustrates, and is better off sticking to graphic novels.

    The characters are very, VERY stereotypical, flat, and static: a nerdy, lonely artist, a closeted and rage-prone jock, an old Jewish couple, a housewife losing her looks, a metalhead from a small town of radical Christians, and a cool black guy. Along with their highly predictable character traits, none of these characters go through any significant changes as the story progresses, other than most of them dying rather predictably. There is also a girl called Mona, who has no personality, at all, and is ignored by zombies for indeterminable reasons. This character shows up about halfway through the book, and, due to the time of arrival and her immunity to zombies, was obviously the product of the author not knowing what to do with the story or getting lazy once it reached the point that the characters were all out of supplies.

    The book is also devoid of any themes or motifs, unless one considers it to be a theme that people suck; while that is a valid philosophical question, if the author was attempting to communicate that theme, he did so poorly. Most of the characters end up going crazy for no apparent reason.

    The writing was decent in some parts, such as the quasi-stream of consciousness writing, which I found interesting, but other than that, there was nothing about Fingerman's writing style that stood out. The descriptive details in the story were also, in some cases, quite disgusting; I understand the need to have gore and such in a zombie novel, but was it really necessary for him to provide SEVERAL sex scenes involving incredibly malnourished people, and even two men in one case? No, it was not necessary and was very offensive as well.

    Now if this were all just part of a typical zombie novel, I could maybe see this book working out; however, there is almost no zombie action whatsoever in this book. I cannot even remember one instance of one of the survivors killing a zombie, and the zombies essentially did nothing in the story besides stay in the background as an environmental factor.

    All in all, I'd say this book does very poorly in both genres it tries to incorporate.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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