When the world ends and the dead walk the Earth, the good people of Lake Woebegotten don’t seem to really notice. The small isolated town has had its fair share of tragedies and a zombie apocalypse just doesn’t have a high priority over more important matters like town gossip, who‘s going to plow the snow, and should we or shouldn‘t we have lemon squares at the town meeting.
Personally, I happen to be a sucker for comedic zombie movies. I know, I know, a lot of people don’t agree with combining comedy and horror in such a way, that the two just don‘t click together, and to an extent I agree with them. There are too many filmmakers that do a zombie flick, do it as lazily as an alcoholic hobo trying to beg for change, and hope the bad humor they add in will distract the audience from how terrible the movie actually is. However, done well, the humorous zombie movie can be a great thing, look at both Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. Those two movies were great flicks, and though they each had their own fair share of problems, they were still some of the better films to come out of the zombie genre in the last decade. Well, The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten is kind of like those two films, except that here, the comedy never stops…I mean it never stops; not for even the most serious moments of the book. There isn’t a moment of Lake Woebegotten’s tale that lets up on the comedy, but first…the plot.
Our story begins with a giant meteor streaking through the sky before exploding in a shower of cosmic dust. The next thing the people of Lake Woebegotten know, zombie fish heads refuse to easily become soup, half flattened dogs become tiny ankle biters, and the dead men buried beneath a serial killer’s house come back for some well-deserved revenge. Of course, it’s not just Lake Woebegotten experiencing the end of the world, but being a small town in the middle of nowhere during one of the harsher Minnesotan winters, makes the problem a little easier to manage than in a big city. Unfortunately, the townsfolk aren’t the type to easily believe in silly nonsense such as zombies, and it’s going to take a major event to drive the danger home, a major event the small town may not survive.
Overall, The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten is a good book. Harrison Geillor obviously takes a lot of his influence from the great Douglas Adams, both in writing style and the amount of insanity he likes to throw into the story. Living fish heads, flattened dogs, and peculiar serial killers are only the tip of the iceberg here. The story gets more and more out of control as it goes along, and the zombified animals are used in hilarious ways. It’s not at all that the comedy is bad, it’s just used too much, and at certain points starts to run a little dry. I can’t say it ruins the story because that’s not the case, it’s still an immensely enjoyable read, but it does bring it down a notch, making you wish the author would give it a rest for a bit at certain points.
If that were my only complaint, this book could have gotten a high rating from me, but there just had to be one other minor annoyance. The story is divided into three sections, and the middle section is presented in such a way that the chapters are NOT in chronological order. The chapters are mixed up so that the one you read could take place after the next one or the one after that. It was a good idea, but it just seemed to bog the story down, forcing you to bring yourself out of the book for a moment to remember where what you’re currently reading fits into the story’s timeline.
Still, this book is a must read for any fan of the living dead and those who loved The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (the book, not the movie). I think others are going to like this book too, but those two fan bases are the ones who are really going to enjoy reading through the story of a small town beset by still walking rotted corpses.
The Undead Review
Written By: Harrison Geillor
Published By: Night Shade Books