So when the last and dreadful hour This crumbling pageant shall devour, The trumpet shall be heard on high, The dead shall live, the living die. – John Dryden
My experience with zombies pretty much begins and ends with the movies Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, which not only gives you a good idea of my highly warped sense of humor, but also clues you in to the fact that I…am pretty much a wuss. If I can’t laugh at the zombie apocalypse, then I don’t want anything to do with it. I like my brain exactly where it is, inside my cranium, thank you, and I have no desire to pollute my denial of the looming undead disaster with visions of the boogeyman tapping my noggin like a keg and sucking my gray matter out through a straw. It’s a personal preference, what can I say? So for me to actively choose to read a zombie book is kind of rare. Not unheard of, mind, but rare.
Half a Million Dead Cannibals is a zombie book. I read it. And I purposefully chose to read it because Kari Gregg, if you’re not familiar with her work, writes some really good erotica interspersed with great characters and the ability to tell an absorbing story, and this book did not at all disappoint in any of those departments. The only place this book failed me was in that it wasn’t long enough, and now I want a sequel but don’t know whether I’ll ever get one.
HaMDC is the story of a global plague that strikes a few months before the story begins, a plague that wipes out scores of people around the world—now, if only those folks had just stayed dead… But no, this particular brand of Armageddon morphs and mutates its victims into slavering, lurching, mindlessly aggressive monsters that belly up to the all-you-can-eat-people-buffet and start to munching.
This is the story of two men, Riley and Graham, who meet in the worst of circumstances and then stay together, because having someone at your back who isn’t trying to eat you as a tribute in this version of the ultimate hunger game means the difference between living and not being alive.
Graham is big, butch, and ex-Navy. Riley wears nail polish and eyeliner. They are virtual opposites, but to underestimate Riley simply because he doesn’t look like a man who is capable of taking care of business is to be as wrong as is humanly possible. Riley is a force, and Graham, as straight as he may be, or at least seems to be, is attracted to that force in a very human way. This is the story of Riley and Graham’s fight for survival, but it’s also the story of how the two men come to need each other in a visceral way, ultimately becoming each other’s reason for fighting and surviving.
This is a story of the complete deconstruction of humanity, not only of the undead population but also of the survivors who now live in a state of vigilante rule; society has devolved into a survival of the fittest, kill or be killed mentality where having simple things like basic necessities makes a man a target for death of the permanent kind, not of that other far more gruesome kind.
Riley and Graham’s flight from the city to take to higher, and far safer, ground was a study in nail-biting action and edge of my seat tension. This is one of those books that for better, or sometimes very much for the worse, plays out like a movie in the imagination. It was pretty much everything I was anticipating it would be, but Riley and Graham and the chemistry between them was very much a nice bonus. Theirs is a relationship that was bred in the need for human companionship in an inhumane world, but grew into the simple but no less profound need of loving someone who can give you faith in any future at all.