I Fell in Love with a Zombie
Dreamspinner Press, 2010
Genre & Keywords:
M/M, (post-)apocalyptic, horror, zombies, violence
Why I read it:
I received a copy from the publisher for review. I enjoyed Sean Kennedy’s other work and the zombie aspect piqued my curiosity.
Rating: 3.75 of 5 stars
Heat level: 1 of 3 flames
Jay didn’t expect to be one of the very few survivors of the virus that decimated the country, leaving shambling, ravenous zombies behind. Fighting for his life amongst the dead, he keeps moving until the day he’s surrounded and facing his bloody end—and shockingly, another zombie saves him. But not just any zombie... it’s Dave, the first man Jay ever loved, and there’s something special about him even now, in the midst of the horror around them.
I Fell in Love with a Zombie is a part of the 2010 Daily Dose Set, Midsummer's Nightmare, which includes 30 M/M stories of supernatural romance that may feature an edge of suspense and heart-pounding fear; a taste of the paranormal worlds of ghosts, vampires, and werewolves; and even the stuff of nightmares and dreamscapes.
I Fell in Love with a Zombie is a novella written by the author of Tigers and Devils, one of my absolute favorite m/m romances. I adore Sean Kennedy’s writing and I love his sense of humor, also present in this very unusual story. The premise of I Fell in Love with a Zombie intrigued me immediately when I read the backblurb. I was curious how zombies could have a place in a romance story. It seemed an impossibility, because I’m one of those soppy romance readers who need a HEA or at least a HFN (Happy For Now) and I just couldn’t see it happening with a zombie.
But I guess Sean Kennedy did make it happen. Sort of. The ending can be seen as a HFN. Although I’m not quite convinced yet about their HEA. But I bet, if Mr. Kennedy decides to write a sequel to Jay’s and Dave’s story, he can make me believe in a happily ever after for these guys if he wants to. Maybe he doesn’t want to. Maybe he didn’t want to write a romantic love story. I can’t really tell for sure. It’s not very romantic what’s happening in Jay’s and Dave’s life but rather gruesome and horrific. Yet, a love story it is. Or isn’t it? Jay and Dave were lovers a long time ago and Jay considers Dave as the one that got away. And even when Dave can’t talk much, being a zombie and all, his behavior shows he cares for Jay. If we consider this a romance story then at least it isn’t a conventional one, that’s for sure.
Does it really matter? Not much, especially when we look at the other qualities of this novella. While reading the first pages - about the beginning of this incredible apocalyptic disease - I Fell in Love with a Zombie reminded me of a novel from José Saramago called Blindness. Here we also see a rapid spreading epidemic, which, in Saramago’s case, makes everyone blind. In Sean Kennedy’s novella it’s a swine flu like virus that causes people to die quickly and some of them to return as zombies.
Both stories show a fascination with how people will behave when put in extreme situations, when conventional rules of behavior don’t seem to apply any longer. Where Saramago’s novel turns into a more moralistic lesson on human behavior in general, Kennedy’s novella focuses mainly on the feelings and events of one individual who tries to survive and entertain hope for a better future. But both stories make you wonder how you would behave in an extreme situation like this. With a few strokes of his pencil Sean Kennedy paints a very believable and realistic threat to our modern society. And that realistic picture relentlessly invites a ‘what if’ question.
One of the other qualities of this story is the way it’s voiced through Jay in a first person POV. I enjoyed Jay’s narrative voice almost as much as Simon’s from Tigers and Devils. Jay’s view-point on things is witty, toned down and light. It makes all the horror bearable and even comical thanks to the way he describes the violent and gruesome occurrences. His voice makes this story a hopeful story. And I adore how Jay is interpreting Dave’s behavior; sometimes with so much humor I had to laugh out loud.
But the choice for this one-sided point of view in first person also means no insight at all in Dave’s thoughts and feelings, aside from Jay’s interpretations in that regard. Somehow Dave’s (absent) point of view seems so incredible intriguing to me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a peek inside the head of a zombie, right? And maybe Dave’s POV would’ve added something that could’ve made me believe easier in their HEA. I guess, to convince me now, only a sequel to I Fell in Love with a Zombie will help... Just so Mr Kennedy knows what I’d like. ;)
In short, I really enjoyed I Fell in Love with a Zombie because of the wit and lightness of Jay’s narrative voice and the originality of the story’s setting and vision on society. The message of hope that spoke louder than the horrid events and the unusual communication between the heroes added to my appreciation. However, as a romantic story I found this novella was not completely convincing. I guess I need to know more about how a human and a zombie are going to work out their differences and their communication problems to believe in a happy future for Jay and Dave. It´s because they are such intriguing characters, that I would happily read a complete novel about them.
So, to answer the question in this post's title: Do zombies and romance match? I think they can, actually. Mr. Kennedy has shown me it’s not completely impossible. In fact, he has me wishing for a sequel to Jay’s and Dave’s story that I would buy and devour as soon as it would hit the shelves of the ebook store.
What do you think? Can zombies be good heroes in romances? Would you read a romance in which one of the main characters is a zombie? If you already have, can you recommend a good one (m/m or m/f)?
Sean Kennedy’s website | blog | on Twitter| on Facebook | on Goodreads
Buy I Fell in Love with a Zombie here
Other books by this author:
Tigers and Devils - one of my all time favorite m/m romances, check out why here
Dash and Dingo: In Search of the Tasmanian Tiger, written with Catt Ford
Wings of Equity (steampunk novel, released last week)
For a complete list of Sean Kennedy’s short stories go here