Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Karina Fabian's "Neeta Lyffe: Zombie Exterminator"

You might remember that, a while back, I had been involved in a Catholic Writer's Guild online conference. I ran a workshop on fight scenes, and ran a discussion on creating a villain. During the course of that latter chat, I mentioned that it helped if the villain had the brain. Mindless, shambling zombies were not really that much fun, as villains go … Then I remembered that one of the people in the chat was Karina Fabian … who had written – surprise – a book about a Zombie Exterminator.

Now, if I had had my wits about me, I would have noted how, in zombie films, zombies are generally NOT the main bad guys. They set the scene, they act as cannon fodder (for an action franchise like Resident Evil, where the real villains are the Evil Corporation du jour), but most zombie movies are more about the people in the Zombie Apocalypse du jour rather than about the zombies. The zombies are window dressing.

Instead, my witless wonder moment had me hasten to add "Though I can't speak for every zombie storyline, I have yet to read Karina Fabian's." I think I inserted a smiley and went on from there.

Within two minutes, I heard an email click. I had just received an e-copy of Karina Fabian's Neeta Lyffe: Zombie Exterminator.

See, when I shoot from the lip, I have no idea what'll happen.

Neeta Lyffe: Zombie Exterminator, takes place in the 2040s, several decades after the zombie outbreaks started. There are no zombie apocalypses here.  It never happened. However, the undead can be annoying, so exterminators have to be called in -- exterminators with chainsaws.  Zombies are attracted to certain strong smells, and they don't like standard household cleaners.... don't ask.

Neeta Lyffe, a second-generation exterminator (motto: "I want to be buried like my mother, with my head cradled in my arms") is sued after an extermination call went into property damage. Now, in order to generate income, she's agreed to do the most terrifying thing in her life..... host a reality show.

Yes, you read that right. The reality show Zombie Death Extreme, where Neeta is stuck with a handful of exterminator wannabes, training them to re-kill the occasional nests of undead that threaten LA (then again, if parts of LA were turned into shambling mindless hordes, would anyone notice?). Also included: re-grief training ... for when you have to mourn for loved ones a second time, when they come back; and flash cards to tell the difference between a stroke victim, a drunk, and a zombie.  And you can probably guess, this has a sense of humor, unlike most zombie films ("We throw the grenades on the count of 3. 1, 2, 3."  Second person shouts "Five," and throws the grenade ... sorry, Monty Python joke.).

The cast looks like it should be stocked with the standard cliches: an ex-marine, a farm boy with a stutter, an African-American woman from an urban environment, an Afghan emigre who's first language isn't English (he speaks it perfectly well, but the producers want him so speak more like Hasan from a Bugs Bunny Cartoon). The Producer of the show is the standard two-dimension cardboard cutout, which means he's drawn very accurately -- however, he's never had to negotiate with someone who carries a chainsaw on a daily basis, including the occasional brainstorming session for the show.

All of the characters are vivid and brightly drawn ... and heavily mocked, in some cases. Everything you have ever hated about reality television is skewered ruthlesly, and wonderfully.

Possibly one of the best parts of this book (and there are plenty to choose from), use the running excerpts from a documentary on the rise of zombies, detailing a somewhat funny look on the matter, down to and including Darwin Award winners who tried to play tag with a zombie. That was fun.

In short, it's one part satire, one part action, and all parts fun.

Coming Soon, Netta Lyffe: I Left My Brains in San Francisco.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review--adn I'm glad you loved it. Thanks also for your help with the fight scenes for Neeta Lyffe 2. It comes out September 2012 from Damnation Books. (Yes, the irony of a devout Catholic writing for Damnation, but they're a great press, and the books are fun!)

    You can learn more about the reality TV show and the book at http://zombiedeathextreme.com



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