You can't go for a short walk in this current literary world of ours without tripping over half a dozen zombie novels. Blame Robert Kirkman, or Brian Keene, or Danny Boyle; it really doesn't matter who started it - zombies are here to stay. So I was genuinely intrigued by the opening to Tim Waggoner's post-apocalyptic zombie novel, The Way of All Flesh, because it offered something completely new (at least to me). In essence, Waggoner not only tells the large proportion of his tale from the perspective of a zombie, but he also has the zombies seeing one another as human, and humans as demon-like creatures who must be destroyed, and then (somewhat weirdly) eaten.
Wow, I thought to myself, this is going to be awesome.
Well, it was for a time, and then it wasn't.
Along with his zombie-lead, David, Waggoner's other major POV characters are David's very living sister, Kate and her partner in ranging-for-supplies, Nicholas. The latter is a complete psycho who has only been biding his time, and the reader knows that he will eventually have to set his sights on Kate. The stage is therefore set for a very personal showdown, but somewhere along the way, I found myself losing interest. For me, too much time was spent with David and his interactions with the odd young guy who looks a hell of a lot like a bully that used to torment him when he was a teenager. Conversely, too little time was spent with the human survivors, so that even when it came to Kate, I had a hard time caring about her (or the larger group's) fate.
Why David was able to think more clearly than every other zombie, and what exactly was going on, pulled me through the story. But in the end, Waggoner's explanation was a little too out there for me - even though I started this review by saying I'm all for originality in my zombie fiction. Just maybe not this original. Basically it all felt a bit dues ex machina-y.
Still, I give credit to Waggoner for producing something unexpected and not re-treading old ground. I also found myself wincing at some of his gore-filled scenes - something that occurs increasingly less these days - so further props for that.
So to wrap up, I found The Way of All Flesh to be a solid zombie novel without being anything special. I certainly preferred Waggoner's post-apocalyptic vision set down in the novella, The Last Mile, but between these two, I have no doubt I'll be back for more from him in due course.
3 Meaningful Changes in Perspective for The Way of All Flesh.