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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: No Flesh Shall Be Spared

I wasn't sure about writing this review for two reasons: I don't usually dig zombie books, and the author, Thom Carnell, is a friend of mine.  I read this book a little more than a year ago, however, and loved it despite those very same reasons.  There's no reason, then, to not defy convention.

Carnell's debut novel, "No Flesh Shall Be Spared," places the reader in an interesting situation.  The Zombie Apocalypse happened. It's over and done with.  What happens next?  In this world, there's only one answer: Zombie Pit Fighting!  Contestants are placed in an arena with hordes of the dead, using the weapons at hand, their fighting skills, and their wits to survive.  Winning grants you money and fame.  Losing makes you hungry for flesh.

The story follows the rise of Cleese, the new face of zombie pit fighting, as he is recruited into this lucrative sport and trained in the fine arts of Zombie-killin' for sport.  Cleese is trained by Monk, who essentially plays Mickey to Cleese's Rocky, and sticks to his side as he kills his way to the top.  Along the way Cleese runs afoul of the league's corporate sponsorship and falls in love with a sexy she-slayer.  As the story progresses, we find out background on almost every character with a speaking part through the liberal use of well-placed and well-paced "Before..." chapters, which serve as a look into what it was like at the beginning of the Zombie uprising, a profile on certain characters, and a peek at the origins of America's newest pastime.

No Flesh Shall Be Spared is brash and ballsy, and a fresh take on the Walking Dead scenario we've seen time and time again since the remake of Dawn of the Dead in the last decade.  Take one part Gladiator, one part Night of the Living Dead, and one part Escape from New York, and you have this fun zombie action tale. The only complaints I have are a very slow start and an overuse of f-bombs, but these do nothing to detract from the overall enjoyment of the story.  I started out reading it because the author is a friend.  By the third chapter I was reading because my friend wrote a damn good book.

Noteworthy: Two words:  Zombie Mass.  That is all.

Rating: 9 of 10

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