February is the opening of the League of Reluctant Adults floodgates. Like the poor little Dutch boy who could no longer keep his finger in the dike, the raging waves of Leaguer books are heading to stores come February 23rd. The one I am probably most excited about (with apologies to the other authors) is Battle of the Network Zombies by Mark Henry. This is the third book in the Amanda Feral series that shows us the seedy underside of the Supernatural Seattle. Unfortunately from time to time it shows us other “seedy undersides” as well.
Back in November, in the midst of the insanity that was Nanowrimo, I received the ARC of the book I won through a contest on Bitten by Books. National Novel Writing Month or not, I was not going to wait to read this book. I also wrote a review of it that unfortunately never saw publication. I used the basis of that for this review – most definitely I kept the tag line for it. But that will have to wait.
If you are not familiar with the Amanda Feral series, I suggest picking up Happy Hour of the Damned. It is the first in the series and explains a lot of the world and the characters. Also, it just released earlier this week in mass market paperback so is only $6.99. If you are located in Southern Wisconsin and want to get your copies of Mark Henry’s books personalized, signed and possibly have dirty stick figures drawn in them (his words, not mine), then contact me and I can do that for you in the end of April. Seriously, he told me to bring a whole suitcase full of them and I will make sure he is at least two drinks in before he signs any of them.
Also, any purchases made of either Happy Hour of the Damned or Battle of the Network Zombies will help towards the Save Amanda campaign. With the economy the way it has been, trade paperback sales have been deadly – more so than our favorite snarky zombie socialite. If the mass market sales and the initial sales of Battle of the Network Zombies do not show promise, there may be no book four. And from everything I have heard, we all will want to see a book four.
I suppose I should hop down off this soapbox and produce an actual review of the book for you. I will include some links at the bottom where you can go to join in on other contests involving the Save Amanda campaign. But for now let’s talk Supernatural Reality Television.
This book focuses on two things, Amanda’s need for money and her love of the celebrity lifestyle. Let’s face it, she is a high maintenance girl – mortuary grade make-up isn’t the only thing a zombie needs to keep herself from looking a little green around the edges. And those psycho little Reapers are not cheap. Don’t let the Shirley Temple look fool you, they cannot be paid in gumdrops and Barbie dolls! From the start of the book, Amanda deals with both of these needs by signing on for one of Mark Henry’s obsessions – a reality television show. (Seriously, an intervention might be in order.)
Amanda joins the cast of a show to pick out a bodyguard for a rather raunchy nature spirit that feels he needs protection – in the form of a busty female supernatural. Well, for the most part. The cast of characters in the show ranges from a drag queen werewolf (probably one of my favorite characters in the book), an oriental floating head and guts style vampire nail tech to a pair of drunken sirens. All just lining up to be judged by Amanda, the Simon of the show.
If the first two books showed anything it is this. In addition to all of the characters being damaged way before they became monsters, nothing in Amanda’s life ever goes according to plan. The whole story is an amazing roller coaster ride and is way more raunchy than either of the first two books. That is not to say it is bad though. Quite to the contrary, it is freeing to see Amanda and Mark both really open up in this book and let loose. Of course this is at the cost of me ever eating corn on the cob again. Ever!
One of the strangest things about this book is that there really is no “protagonist” to the story. Amanda is the main character, but she is a monster. She does not wax emo over the fact that she has to kill to survive. She will eat your face off and only apologize for the clothes you are wearing or your hideous makeup job. Yet still, with all of these monsters who are out on the prowl eating defenseless people, you still get invested in the story – you still care about the characters. Even when they are being seriously gross.
If you enjoy dark humor along the lines of the movie Heathers, this is definitely the book for you. Although I would start at the first book, you will want to pick up the other two. If you are not into some of the more gross aspects of the undead lifestyle, this book might bother you but I don’t think it will detract you from the story enough to enjoy it. My wife has read the first two and loved them even though she is not into “gross horror stuff.” Simply put, Battle of the Network Zombies is similar to dislocating your shoulder during sex – it is really uncomfortable in spots, but you are enjoying yourself too much to stop.
I feel totally safe in giving this book a solid A. Five out of five dancing zombies. You name the scale, and this will top it. It is fun, wild and disturbing in the most crazy awesome ways. Definitely worth the price of admission, which brings me to the other offers and contests revolving around the book.
You can go there and read the discussion on the books, Mark’s rockstar lifestyle and enter to win copies of his books. All just for asking questions, pointing other people towards the blog or purchasing copies of his other books!
Go to the Qwillery you can enter to win a copy of Happy Hour of the Damned and a Zombie Rubber Duckie – just for leaving a comment!
If any more pop up and are still current I will add them to the list. Otherwise, besides my offer to get your books personalized, you can purchase online from the University of Washington book store and request in the notes of your order to have him personalize it. Otherwise, get them to me by April.