Sunday, November 10, 2013

Zombies Spotlight on:
Bob the Zombie by Jaime Johnesee

Reviewed by Anthony Servante

Click here to purchase

Jaime Johnesee


Jaime Johnesee worked as a zookeeper for fourteen years before deciding to focus on her passion of writing. Her decision has proven to be a good one, as her books have been received with critical acclaim, including Oh The Horror and Shifters, which was recognized as one of the best horror novellas of 2012. Although her initial foray into the literary world has been marked by success, Jaime has just begun and is a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

Book summary:

A novella. 
Life is rough, unlife can be even more difficult, especially when you're a zombie with bad luck. This is not your average zombie novella.


Bob the Zombie employs that new perspective popular in zombie books today—the pov of the zombie itself. This, of course, is a throw-back to the White Zombies of the 1930s where the Voodoo priest or priestess controlled the mind of a recently dead and/or living person via a spell or potion and the zombie had to obey all commands even though they were aware of what they were doing (for Johnesee, she divides the zombie groups into “hordes” or free-willed undead and “skags” or enslaved zombies). One of my favorite uses of this device was in Wet Work by Philip Nutman, where it was played for epic proportions; but Jonathan Mayberry also utilized it for horrific effect in Dead of Night to underscore the transformation of his zombie. Jaime’s use of the device is played for ironic parody. In other words, for laughs.

Instead of the voodoo rites, Jaime prefers a witchcraft ritual to bring Bob back to life after a “hilarious” pruning accident (right off, Johnesee compares the severing of a young man’s jugular vein [carotid artery?] with a Chevy Chase pratfall. Bob then worries more about his cosmetic appearance than his being dead: “The clouding of my eyes bothered my mom (and me, really) the most. I have the eyes of a corpse now.” Then playing the sympathy card, our undead narrator wants us to know that he is not a “ghoul” and reserves the right to eat “normal” food (if you can call Chicken Nuggets food) in addition to “nonfood” items. And like a spoiled teenager, Bob complains about rejection from his family: “I didn’t ask to be brought back from the dead” (compare: I didn’t ask to be born, a teen’s favorite line to authoritative parents). And like a good rebel, Bob joins a gang of zombies (although he prefers the word “horde”).

If this is all starting to sound familiar to you (that sounds like the teen in my family), that’s because that’s what parodies do; they mock traditions, and in this case, Bob the Zombie mocks family values.

Soon, Bob is off on an adventure and we learn about the interplay of the natural and supernatural forces causing friction for our hero and his dead friends. Jaime Johnesee has created a marvelous world of social outcasts finding friendship and family in an uncaring society. Even without the zombie fittings, this story would play out perfectly well as the straight-up tale of a human outsider in today’s world of media isolation and cyber-social clubs. Either way you take it, Bob the Zombie will warm your heart, whether it’s beating or not. 

Bob the Sequel is also available. Purchase here

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