Double Dead is the first published novel by writer and blogger Chuck Wendig. His blog terribleminds is a fun read if you are interested in writing, and can cope with Chuck Wendig's rather unique style of writing. I can see why his honeyed words might be too much for some, but when I first heard of Double Dead I thought, because of his style, he could pull it off. It's a fun idea for a book, which manages to combine two very popular genres, vampires and zombies. Vampires drink blood and zombies eat humans. Sounds like we have a conflict of interest at stake.
Double Dead starts with a drop of blood. A single drop finding its way into the mouth of the desiccated and lifeless body of Coburn the vampire. To a vampire blood is life, and as more blood trickles into his mouth, Coburn's body is revived. He claws his way out of the rubble that was his grave to find the source of the blood. A derelict theatre is the stage for a rather gruesome scene of two men tearing into a deer with their bare teeth. To a starved vampire this does not even register, he just sinks his fangs deep into the neck of one of the men, and starts to drink. What comes next however, penetrates through the red mist. Instead of rich blood Coburn's mouth is filled with a black, rotten, and lifeless fluid.
Poor widdle vampire has tucked into a zombie. Not the best way to start the day, It's like giving a man who is expecting full English breakfast a plate of rotten. A vampire can't snooze for 50 years without waking up to the end of the world and a zombie apocalypse. Outrageous! I just can't help myself, but that's pretty damn funny. Never really thought of how troublesome it would be for a vampire.
There is not much to say about the world building in Double Dead. It feels very Walking Dead like, which is not a bad thing. Only so much you can do with this genre maybe. Cities have been taken over by the mindless dead, but there are survivors out there, and obviously, rumours about a safe haven and researchers working on a cure. A suitable blend of ingredients for the job at hand, even if we have tasted them all before.
Coburn is one of the things I really like about Double Dead, and Chuck Wendig should be very pleased with his character. Coburn is a violent, sadistic, ass of a vampire. I saw quite a few reviews where the reviewer could not take to the book because of this, and after reading Double Dead this baffles me. Coburn preys on people, takes nourishment from blood, what did they expect him to behave like? Mother Teresa? His monstrous behaviour is what makes the book so good, and it wouldn't be as interesting otherwise.
Coburn has an addiction to blood, and when the hunger is upon him he is no longer in control. He will do what it takes to feed, and with his super speed and strength he is very dangerous. The man is a monster, but he was once a normal man. Unfortunately he cannot remember anything from his life before his transformation so he has embraced his new self. He knows the things he is capable of, and has done makes him a monster, so he behaves like one. I think he is doing it to protect himself, and his own sanity. I might not be able to sympathise with him, but I understand him, and this is what makes Coburn such a interesting and realistic anti-hero. Add to that a lot snappy dialogue with a lot of one liners, and we are in for a hell of journey with Coburn.
The plot is a mostly a case of surviving the zombie apocalypse, which might sound straightforward. However, humans and vampire have quite different requirements for survival. This means there will be some rather drastic decisions made by the characters, not only Coburn, which is good. Drastic usually equals exciting! Apart from all the social conflict, struggle between groups of people for resources, there is also plenty of personal conflict. Coburn easily has the most conflict dealing with his urges, but it's not easy for the humans as well. Trust is a big issue in Double Dead, but I won't give away anything from the plot so let's leave it at that. There is one more thing; a very important question in the zombie genre, and rarely answered, is actually answered in Double Dead.
I really like Chuck Wendig's writing voice. It might be aggressive and in your face, but the humour takes the sting out his use of offensive language. Yes, it’s in your face and sweary, but it should not be taken seriously, only the point he is trying to make. As far as I am concerned he pulls it off really well, and it is his aggressive tone which gives his writing its zing.
At first, he thought about just kicking down one of these doors and marching inside like he owned the place - feeding with the aggressive gusto of a man ripping the top of package of Cheetos and shoving his whole head inside like it was some kind of gratuitous feed-bag.
Double Dead is a stellar take on the zombie apocalypse and vampires. I did not expect such great character development, and excellent use of personal conflict. I can only apologise to the writer for underestimating him, and congratulate him on a terrific book. Don't worry, Double Dead will definitely tickle your fancy if you are an action nut as well. The pace is furious with no time for relaxing. It's a must read for any fan of the genre, or really for anyone who likes a good book.
Double Dead weighs in at 320 pages, and is published by Abaddon Books.
Recommendation: must read, or Creampuff will chew your nose off