Book Review: The Living Dead by George Romero and Daniel Kraus

This is an epic tome of a book, coming in at 600 pages. The definitive zombie book, mostly written by the definitive zombie writer/director – George Romero. I say mostly written, because he died before he could finish it, so his wife and long time collaborator searched for someone who would be able to pull all of the threads together and complete what George had started. Not an easy process as George’s wife found plot outlines kept separate from the book, and Daniel found a couple of chapters of a previous version online written over 20 years earlier. Daniel Kraus has published many books in his own right as well as collaborating with the writer/director Guillermo Del Toro.

The book is almost a written version combining all six of the zombie films, starting from the very first re-animated corpse to the death of the dead. There are many different characters in the book with lengthy sections for each one, which then becomes single chapters in the second part of the book, and then ultimately some of the characters meet up in the land of the living in the final part of the book. Obviously, not all of the characters survive, and some of them get bumped off quite early on. The ending is also spot on, with humans reverting to type.

There was always a depth to Romero’s films, which was often ignored. As with Clive Barker, the monsters are not always the monster. Zombies are just doing what zombies do, in that they eat human flesh. The real monsters are always other humans. This depth of character has the time and space to evolve incredibly well within this book. You really start feeling for the characters, hoping that everything will work out for the best.

There is also a great deal of humour within the book, as well as a few hidden ‘Easter Eggs’. Daniel Kraus is a long time George fan and one of the hidden eggs I found was a reference to the characters from George’s 1981 film Knightriders, which has nothing to do with David Hasselhoff, but is a film well worth looking out for. Additionally there is the introduction of zombie chickens in the book.

Zombie books and horror books are fairly niche so I won’t recommend this if you’re not a fan of the genre. However, if you love a good horror novel then this is an absolute must read. I gave it 5 out of 5 on Goodreads.

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