I will admit that I don’t know everything about zombies, but I was pretty sure that the undead would be terrible at sports. At least that is what I believed until I read Play Dead by Ryan Brown.
In Texas, football is taken serious and winning a game is life or death, quite literally. Through a bus accident, the Elmwood Heights Badgers accidently murder almost all the members of their rivals the Killington High Jackrabbits. Cole Logan, quarterback, manages to survive because of another incident where Badgers cut off two of his fingers. Talk about unsportsmanlike conduct. In order to finish the season, Cole enlists the help of Mona, an elderly lady who can raise the dead. However, the once dead players come back zombiefied (which teenagers aren’t?) rather than to their former glory. If being undead and having a craving for raw meat wasn’t enough, the alive again players must win the championship football game or else they will devolve into completely evil monsters and be damned to Hell. No pressure guys.
Brown’s premise seems a bit ridiculous zombies playing football, but the ridiculousness works completely in the novel’s favor. Imaging these teenaged zombies reminded me of Tim Burton more than George Romero with the sense of dark humor embellished with of course a few of the gruesome details we look for in a good zombie book. The creative reimagining of the zombie staple is refreshing and makes for a super fun read.
Play Dead was Brown’s debut novel and I for one would love to see what else his brain and pen could possibly imagine. Go, Jackrabbits.
He spun around in place, not quite sure what he was looking for. A coyote most likely. Maybe a bobcat; they were rare in these parts, but not unheard of. He was more worried that it had been a dog. Mr. Garner down the street had a pair of pit bulls that were known to get loose from time to time. And unlike a coyote or bobcat, a pit bull wouldn’t hesitate to attack a man in the same ferocious manner it had attacked a helpless housecat.