Pub. Aug. 13, 2011
Description from the back cover: In a not-so-distant future, the world has devolved and most of the population has become the animated dead. Those few that are living are called zombies. They are feared and must be hunted down and destroyed.
My opinion: The Dishonored Dead is one of the most sobering, and perhaps grimmest, zombie books I have ever read. Given the author's meticulous attention to detail, the reader is able to suspend disbelief and as the story unfolds, the events become all too real.
In a world where imagination is illegal and, as part of school curriculum, all children are required to play a video game called Henry the Hunter for two hours each and every day, where the winners are the dead who have re-written history to justify the continual slaughter of the *zombies* - those unfortunate humans desperate to hold onto life in the face of nearly insurmountable odds - in this world of black & white the reader quickly comes to see exactly how destructive bias & prejudice are to the human race, and to what ends people will blindly follow the status quo given enough *encouragement* by their peers to do so.
On the surface level, we are introduced to the son of the greatest *zombie* hunter of all time, Conrad. Conrad's wife Denise is pregnant with twins, while his young son Kyle is quickly approaching a critical developmental phase where the boy will either turn *zombie* or remain normal. Should the unthinkable occur and Kyle become one of them, it will be his father's painful duty to destroy his own flesh and blood.
But as the story opens with zombie hunter Conrad hesitating during a routine kill, the simplistic ideal of Us vs Them becomes painfully skewed and slowly unravels as deeper questions are brought to bear. At what point does the price of status quo become too high to pay? Conrad's son Kyle becomes pivotal to the evolution of his father's world view.
As I mentioned, the author's amazing attention to detail lends overwhelming realism to the story. For example, Conrad and Denise sit in the existing room. It's little touches like these that consistently build a world both plausible as well as frightening.
In my opinion, The Dishonored Dead is a book that should not be missed. Aside from the entertainment value that such a twist in expectations provides, readers will immediately be drawn into the machinations that keep a herd, a society in check. And is the unity a herd achieves by agreeing upon a common enemy worth having in the first place? It doesn't seem so when the enemy has a face, and the face is that of one's own child.
Ruthless. Brutally honest. That's how I'd describe The Dishonored Dead. I loved it and highly recommend. And being a discriminating hard-core zombie fan, this one's a keeper. It's definitely got a permanent home on my bookshelves.