Dead Stay Dead, by Paul Jessup – Book Review

I received this book from The Zombie Feed, a small publishing arm of Apex Publications. The Zombie Feed is producing several novellas, and this is TZF Novella #2. Dead Stay Dead is very short, coming in at 72 pages, which makes for a quick, enjoyable, read. I would categorize it as zombie horror comedy, because it is written in a campy style where nobody takes anything too seriously; even when chased by fast moving zombies, there’s time to crack a few jokes – kind of like Bruce Willis when trapped in a burning building chasing terrorists.

The book starts off with Natasha talking to a ghost – that’s one of the things she does – helping ghosts find their way, but this ghost turns out to be a zombie. The setting is a college campus, and Natasha finds her way back to her dorm, the zombie giving chase. She gets inside and with the help from a dorm mate, Ty, manages to secure the building temporarily, but unfortunately the zombie gets in and does battle with Ty, who doesn’t fare so well in the fight. The zombie is dead, but Ty is hurt and unconscious, so what else to do but call 911 and go back to your dorm room.

Enter Melissa, her room mate, who is at the moment practicing the art of making mannequin heads explode. Yes, she has the paranormal power to summon energy and focus it into one spot, resulting in a burst of flames. You can see how this will be very helpful in the coming zombie apocalypse. Soon, noises are heard, and the dorm is overrun with zombies. Natasha and Melissa decide to leave the dorm and make their way to somewhere safe. Meanwhile, Ty has died and becomes a ghost.

As Natasha and Melissa run for their lives, they meet someone in need, and help him escape from his building which is surrounded by zombies as well. Melissa names him Lettuce Head, and from this point on, he is kind of like a comic relief character to keep things lively throughout the rest of the book.

Ty’s ghost tries to get messages to Melissa – there’s something he knows about the source of the zombie apocalypse and feels that the reason he died was to be the hero who stops the apocalypse and saves humanity, although he knows he needs the help of someone who is actually flesh and bones enough to make it happen. Thus, the hero quartet is formed: a crazy hippie-gypsy girl who can explode heads, a girl who can speak to the dead, a freshly made ghost, and a guy they all can pick on, Lettuce Head, who once in a while can come up a good idea and help things out.

The rest of the book is about our heroes as they try to uncover the mystery behind the zombie apocalypse and stop it. They are given a location by Ty, but not an exact one, and they’re not sure what to do even if they find it. They have to figure this out while fighting the zombie horde and staying alive.  There’s a surprise involving Melissa’s long lost brother, who becomes another character in book, adding suspense and mystery.

I think this is a great book for young adults; I don’t know what the intended market for the book is, but the humor and fast pace of the action makes me feel like a teenager again, and I get it. I read a lot of young adult books and it seems this one fits right in that genre. There are a some grammatical errors in the book which I’m sure will be fixed in the second edition, but it didn’t detract from the reading experience. Overall this book is a fun, quick ride on a zombie roller-coaster.

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