Posted on March 31, 2011 by Steven Dawes
Available at DriveThruHorror.com
Written by Paul Jessup
Hello again fellow horror hicks! I know, it’s been a long time since my name graced the pages of Flames Rising. But my school duties have been a greedy bully with my time as of late. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve not have much time for anything else I enjoy doing either. And perhaps as further punishment of my not being around more often, the latest book I was given to review, titled “Dead Stay Dead”, was simply insufferable and punished me harshly for reading it.
From its description, it wanted to be blended mix of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Shaun of the Undead and Zombieland. But what it turned out to be was a plain mess to read that completely missed its mark. I hope my past reviews show that I’m not a snobby or picky reader. I’ve read many different styles of horror books and have found ways to enjoy them all.
And while I usually call them out in my reviews, I can forgive and sometimes even ignore a lot of short coming in any book, as long I enjoyed the narrative. But this one… it was disjointed, confusing to follow, and between the poor editing (missing words like “a, and, of, but, it” and others in sentences on a regular basis) and using incorrect words (like using “here” when he meant to use “hear”) it was nearly unintelligible at times.
The story begins with a trope “Ghost Whisperer” in college character named Tasha, who meets a zombie wondering down campus hallway. While she had the intelligence to run away from it, she has a sarcastic response to it rather than a horrified one (like she deals with these things daily), only to have a sarcastic, yet calm discussion with another student who was also sarcastic and calm about a zombie trying to eat them both as they dispose of it. And quite frankly, it all goes down a steep hill after that.
I don’t know who the intended audience is for with this one, but I am NOT that audience, and I don’t know who would be. The commentary felt like a bizarre version of a “Seinfeld” episode, if Seinfeld and Kramer ever had to deal with zombies, Aklo letters, and poorly design horror tropes. But I wasn’t getting the jokes in this episode. If I hadn’t been handed this book to review, and wasn’t a professional who reads the entire book regardless of how bad it is, I wouldn’t have made past the first twenty pages. If I had purchased this book, I’d have stopped early and demanded my money back.
Beyond the odd commentary and actions between the odd characters, the very structure of the sentences was just as grating to get through. Take this one for example;
“A sound broke through conversation. A knocking on the door. Pound. Pound. Pound. Melissa spun around and scowled at the door then gave it the middle finger.”
“Pound. Pound. Pound”… really? Really? Wasn’t the knocking at the door enough to get the message across? And if not, couldn’t you have worded this more intelligently? How about adding in the word “the” or “their” between “through” and “conversation”? And what kind of response was that Melissa?
You like that one? I’ve got another one to chew on;
“No response. Just silence. Then: Knock. Knock. Knock.”
Here’s one more to shake your head at:
“Her faced contorted into an angry glare. She stomped her foot impatiently. Tap. Tap. Tap.”
Okay, I lied… one more for good measure;
“Melissa reached over, swung it shut. Slam.”
And these are all found in the first few pages in a book bloated with these kind of lines.
I’ve not read anything from Paul Jessup before, and I don’t think I ever want to, critically acclaimed writer or not. While he’s got a good head for gore filled prose, his method of writing a fast paced novella here was a mess. Fortunately it was only 82 pages long and I was able to finish it quickly.
Well, I’ve got a few more days off till school starts. Here’s hoping that I’ll get a chance to review some more item before then. I especially hope that they are more entertaining and put together than “Dead Stay Dead” was.
Reviewed by Steven Dawes