Not your typical story of the zombie apocalypse by any stretch of the imagination, Richard Johnson's Dead Drunk starts exceedingly well, as Charlie and a crew of his "mates" gather to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Blake, another member of their crew. The banter between the guys is excellent and had me chuckling along in several places as the (admittedly simple) characters were sketched in. Then the zombie threat emerges, and after a few early losses, the survivors find themselves holed up within Charlie's home while the infected surround them and attempt to get in.
So while this part all sounds bog standard, it's what happens from here that differs significantly. Instead of the usual pain, angst, grim nihilism and sadness that descends upon proceedings in this type of novel, Johnson spins things in a different direction. His "heroes" instead proceed to get drunk, stoned and otherwise off their individual faces, and in so doing instantly accept what's happening around them - all while continuing to rip each other a new one whenever the opportunity arises. Until, inevitably, things start to go awry ...
Hit back on your browser right here if you only want the grim nastiness of the apocalypse in your chosen reads. But if you're open to something that is much lighter and generally fairly silly, then this book might just be for you. Generally, I fall into the former category, but I was up for something less intense, and for the first half, Dead Drunk perfectly addressed what I was looking for. The writing was economical, the humour fairly strong, and you could feel disaster looming for the characters.
Unfortunately, Johnson seemed to lose a bit of focus in the back half as he adds a couple of subplots that brought little to the main storyline, the humour starts to wear a little thin (as it does with most comedies, if I'm being honest), and the characters reactions to events becomes less and less relatable. For example, at one point, a member of the group is killed in a spectacular fashion and barely anybody even blinks an eye. All of which in the end brought this back to a 3 star read for me - albeit one which was very entertaining for its first half.
Just to be clear, I plan on following Charlie and his surviving friends in the sequel to Dead Drunk at some point in future. I just need a few dark, gritty, more realistic apocalypses to cleanse my palate before doing so.
3 Missing Right Nuts for Dead Drunk: Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse ... One Beer at a Time.