Jun 19, 2012

[Books] Double Dead

I'm not exactly big on horror, but my partner Tobie is while my other partner Prince does have a thing for vampires. But one thing that has helped me expand my horizons a bit more is getting into tabletop game primarily through White Wolf.

And when I found out that Chuck Wendig, one of those folks who have contributed to enriching the White Wolf mythos over the years, is also a published author, well, I had to find out what was going on. and beyond his association with White Wolf, the premises behind his books are such powerful geek bait that it's hard to even contemplate not trying his books out.

And this first venture - a mash-up of both a vampire story and a zombie story - was certainly a surprise. Beyond the somewhat humorous premise and the often irreverent manner of speaking the protagonist happens to have, the book is quite the fun read with little bonuses for those who might have played some of the White Wolf games associated with Wendig.

Synopsis: Double Dead is the debut novel of Chuck Wendig, the man behind the Terrible Minds website. From his site, he describes himself as "...equal parts novelist, screenwriter, and game designer."

It is seemingly be sheer chance that blood manages to revive the husk of a body that turns out to be the vampire Coburn, somehow buried in some movie theater. And when he awakes, still in desperate need of blood, he finds out that the city of New York - and perhaps the rest of the world - has been overrun by zombies. And zombies don't exactly have blood, so Coburn faces a number of different problems now.

He eventually comes across a group of survivors trying to travel out West. And while he could have just bled them dry, young Kayla manages to convince him to act as their protector in exchange for information on less than savory types that Coburn can use to sate his hunger. And thus the story begins with this unusual arrangement of a vampire playing shepherd to some of the last humans around in order to survive in a world full of the risen undead.

No Coburn isn't exactly a hero. He is the protagonist center of the story, yes, but that doesn't make him a hero. He's a selfish bastard who's only really out to survive in a world with very limited food. And that can't be a good thing at all. And as a vampire, he has the usual vulnerabilities to the sun and such. What does make him interesting though is how he tends to loosely follow the White Wolf rule regarding vampires. Thus he can be strong and he can heal himself but all these actions take time and an expenditure of blood in the process. Thus the more stellar feats that he performs, the faster be burns through his personal blood supply.

And his new "herd" isn't exactly just window dressing either. There are some complex stories to be told between the sick girl Kayla, her father Gil or any of the others. And Wendig does invest some time in fleshing them out as characters a bit more, although I do wish he had spent even more time still. Some of them were a tad one-dimensional or operated more like talking heads in support of whatever the plot demanded.

The story does feature quite a number of interesting characters that they meet (or defeat) along the way along with a number of quirky plot twists that I have to admit I was not expecting. The writing does seem a tad too crass at times, but that's probably more due to the fact that Coburn isn't exactly the paragon of nices and politeness, so his mouth tends to run in whatever direction it wants to.

Double Dead is a fun romp into the supernatural and one that feels like White Wolf without officially being limited by such. Definitely not bad for a first novel and it's that I enjoyed a lot, thus I'm sure I'm going to be enjoying Wendig's other books pretty soon. The book on its own rates 4 almost silly ways Coburn retries his dog Creampuff out of a possible 5.
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