Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Zombie's Life Is In Danger - Shantnu Tiwari

    2012; 297 pages.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Action-Adventure; Spoof.  Overall Rating : 2½*/10.

    John Doe only pretended to be a zombie to fool his murderous wife.  He succeeded, but now he’s known as “John The Undefeated”, and reputed to be a superhero, whose secret power is …well… being a zombie.

    Since being (un)-dead has some great tax loopholes, John is content to neither promote nor squelch his superhero status.  But there are others who have taken a keen interest in him.

    Some, such as Professor von Smith, would like to recruit Doe into a secret brotherhood called the Hilluminati, sworn enemies of a different Order - the “Secret Rulers of the World”.  Others, presumably agents of SRotW, simply want to kill John The Undefeated.

What’s To Like...
    If you like action – to the exclusion of everything else – The Zombie’s Life Is In Danger is for you.  Every page has thrills, fisticuffs, or skullduggery; maybe even every paragraph.  But the book is also a spoof, so there is an adequate amount of humor blended in.  And in among all the silliness, Shantnu Tiwari also offers some keen insight on a number of serious topics – Labor/Management relations, organized Religion, music piracy, Copyright and Patent Law, and Religious Extremism, to name a few.

    There are multiple, widely-scattered storylines.  Briefly, the four major ones are :

    Jack & Shakespeare – killing several Mideast countries’ worth of bad guys.
    Vishnu/Cowman – superhero, vampire slayer.
    Smith/John Doe/Mary Sue – saving the world from the “Rulers”.
    Sir Fluffy – saving John Doe.

    To his credit, the author manages to bring all those threads together by the end of the book.  This is a standalone novel.  Tiwari has penned several more zombie books, but I don’t think they constitute a series.  There’s a lot of R-rated language here, and of course tons of violence.  But none of  that gets in the way of the spoofery.

    “I had a nightmare.  I was in a call centre run by zombies.”
    “That was no nightmare. Welcome to Big Joe’s International call centre and clearing house.  Our motto is, ‘We’ll harass your customers for you, so you don’t have to!’  I’m Joe, by the way.”  The man snapped his suspenders, and smiled.
    “But it is run by zombies!” said Vishnu.
    “Aren’t most corporate employees zombies?” said Joe.
    “But zombies have no brains!”
    “So?”  (loc. 1824)

    He saw a village up ahead.  She took him by the hand and led him to a small path that skirted well past.
    The village seemed like any other Eurolandia village, except it had a man in the middle, tied to a pole, with lots of wood around him.
     “They will burn him as a heretic,” said Mary Sue.  “Which is why we will circle around.”
    Vishnu took back his hand.  “We cannot just leave while an innocent man is about to be burned.”
    “How do you know he is innocent?”  (loc. 2558)

Kindle Details...
    I picked The Zombie’s Life Is In Danger up as a free download sometime in the distant past.  It is no longer available as an e-book there, although you can still purchase it as a paperback for $9.99.  You can pick up a number of other e-books by Shantnu Tiwari.  They range from short stories to full-length novels, and from $0.99 to $4.99.
“Foolish woman!  Using poisons to kill a teacher of chemistry.”  (loc. 49)
    Sadly, The Zombie’s Life Is In Danger has serious problems.  The characters are paper-thin, the writing is prosaic, and the storytelling is terrible.  We quickly learn that Jack and Shakespeare, and Cowman, can escape any situation and kill an unlimited number of enemies, so no tension ever builds.  The wit is usually more silly than funny, and the portrayal of Muslims is just hateful.

    The writing is stream-of-consciousness: each chapter is whatever pops into the author’s mind.  There may be lots of rock-‘em, sock-‘em action, but it lacks any overall direction, and therefore serves no purpose other than to fill up pages before herding all the characters in one place for a mediocre ending.  It reminds me of an adventure series (“El Kirbo”) I penned way back in junior high and high school, and trust me, that was atrocious stuff.

    The good news is that Shantnu Tiwari’s next book, Who Framed Santa Claus? (reviewed here), is a  significant improvement, and will give you a better idea of what the author is capable of.

    2½ Stars.  The minuses far outweigh the plusses here.  Read the Santa Claus book instead.

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