3 of 5 stars to Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology by Jonathan Maberry

An image of the book cover of “Nights of the Living Dead”, edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A. Romero

This was my first book finished in 2023, though not my first book started and finished in 2023.

It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. As an anthology, it was kind of a mixed bag and it felt like a lot of the stories focused too heavily on the experience of being bitten and changing. It also has plenty of stories containing the classic horror trope of running towards danger when a real person in the situation would clearly go another way. Maybe asking for that to not be there is like asking for a red shirt to not die in Star Trek, but I prefer situations to play out in a believable way, for the sake of immersion in the story.

There were also quite a few mentions of the smell associated with zombies that I hadn’t really noticed in other stories about zombies, though it makes sense after hearing it, but it was odd that so many authors focused on it. To me, anyway, but maybe that’s just because it seems like an obvious thing. I wonder if it was ever mentioned in “The Walking Dead”? I don’t think so, but those huge zombie herds would certainly have dragged an odor with them.

This collection is pretty long and a lot of the stories are pretty short and forgettable, so I don’t remember them all. It felt almost like some of these stories were concepts or exercises instead of fully fleshed out ideas. By that, I mean there were logical gaps in the stories, even within the conceptual framework of a zombie outbreak, like being safe within a ring of fire but not having food available. Maybe that was intended? To emphasize the grimness and desperation of the situation? I don’t know, but I wanted more from these stories. Some of them felt like they could have been more, could have been better, but were cut short.

The one story that stands out to me is the one that takes place in the zoo. The actions of the protagonist are actions that I feel like I would have taken as well.

I’m going to try listening to some zombie podcasts on #audible to see how they are. I’m not quite over last decade’s zombie fascination. I think I’ll let that genre go for a few months though. I want to lean more heavily into fantasy and science fiction this year. It feels like I’ve been reading outside of my comfort zones a lot for the last few years and I want to settle into something more familiar. Something more positive for this year, maybe.

2023 needs to be a good year.