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The Seven Habits of Highly Infective People

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  • Posted December 12, 2013

    Bosley Coughlin is a stoner. If it's an illegal drug; he's tried

    Bosley Coughlin is a stoner. If it's an illegal drug; he's tried it. One day he gets hooked up with some premium grade weed and combined with his previous drug use, he becomes a time traveler. Thing is, the pharmacological titan can only time travel mentally, not physically. So while he can use the Aeons to move about through time, it's basically as an observer. It's like being Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol", only without actually being there.
    The problem our resident Stoner Claus has is two-fold: He can see the future to the fall of civilization and the Hell on earth that results, plus he can see one of its causes in the present. His present situation, observing Clarice Bleeping Hudson, revolves around the seven signs that mark one's transition from human to zombie.

    The story switches between Bosley in the present and Ocean, a 14-year old girl in future who lives in what remains of the human race. Both story lines advance at a steady rate, though the story in the present is marked by Bosley's asides to whomever he is telling the story. Bosley's storytelling brings you along and gives you hope that Ocean's life can be changed for the better.

    Overall, the book has good pacing and is a decent read. Some readers may have an objection to someone with a drug habit as a hero. In an attempt to bring something fresh to the genre, I have no objections to the use of the anti-hero trope. Many of the heroes of the genre have their own flaws, but while Bosley has a drug habit, he manages to hold down a job and otherwise comports himself as a law-abiding citizen.
    Surprisingly, there are very few actual zombies (in fact, I don't even recall the word zombie being used in the book). But, the slow transformation of Clarice Hudson from attractive woman to savage beast is interesting to watch.

    BOTTOM LINE: If you're looking for a zombie gore-fest, you won't find it here. These seven habits involve more drama and horror.

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    Enjoyable, early-career-ish zombie novel by an author worth foll

    Enjoyable, early-career-ish zombie novel by an author worth following

    (Please note that I always give three stars: if I could, I wouldn't give stars at all and would just write the review. Always giving three stars is my compromise.)

    Fans of zombie stories and stark, stage-style settings should enjoy this novel. The main narrative appeal are the voices of the two main characters, one of whom is very emotionally appealing, the other of whom is interestingly "cosmic" and quirky. The settings are drawn simply, cleanly, and effectively. 

    The limits of the novel, which I felt were sufficiently overcome by its strengths, were that the sometimes-incoherent voice of the main character didn't always earn its cosmic weirdness, and lacked some emotional resonance because of it. Earning that character was always going to be the main challenge of writing this novel, though, and the author is more often successful than not.

    At its best, this novel reminded me of Jim Thompson; quirky, dramatic first-person narrative carried by one main, unique voice. Where it falls a bit flat are its slightly-too-typical settings and not-quite-managed but extremely high-difficulty main character voice.

    I am not the biggest fan of zombie stories, but I will continue to watch this author for interesting books as his career develops.

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