[If you aren’t sure if you want to read these titles after reading this review, you can also check out Weekend at Vidu’s, a short by author Richard Johnson that will help introduce you to author Richard Johnson’s writing style and some of the characters from the Dead Drunk series.]
Synopsis of Dead Drunk:
Charlie Campbell was your average, balding, thirty-year-old alcoholic with a dead-end job and a penchant for shambling through life one mistake after another. However, none of that mattered following the sudden arrival of a mysterious sickness that brought with it infected mobs of zombie-like creatures thirsting for the flesh of the living.
Trapped in a Chicago apartment the morning after a raucous bachelor party, Charlie and his old fraternity buddies must battle for survival against the cannibalistic horde, a military invasion and their own rampant stupidity.
With supplies, common sense and brain cells dwindling by the hour, the motley crew — including a racist cop, a Sri Lankan used car salesman, a stoner landlord and a pet raccoon — must pull out all the stops to avoid joining the ranks of the dead.
If you like zombies, action and humor, crack a beer, pull up a barstool, and prepare for one wild ride!
Synopsis of Dead Drunk II:
What happens when a bunch of thirty-year-old degenerates survive an apocalyptic zombie outbreak? They get into even more trouble in the aftermath. Duh.
That’s right, Charlie Campbell and several of his loser friends have escaped a nightmare Chicago fraught with zombies and an occupying army, only to find the wild-lands beyond aren’t any safer. Looking for sanctuary, this group of low-skilled and untrained anti-heroes must fight infected mobs, nerdy dads, tunnel dwelling freaks, special forces, and each other to survive.
Facing death at every turn, the gang must make friends, find allies, adapt to this mad new world, and do it in a hurry. Will they survive? Will they find a cure? Will they drive each other crazy? But most importantly, will they run out of beer?
If you liked the zombie mayhem, rowdy comedy, and over- the-top storytelling of the original Dead Drunk, you will be even more blown away by Dead Drunk II: Dawn of the Deadbeats. So adjust your trucker hat, light that generic cigarette, grab a cold one from the fridge, and let the shenanigans begin.
The idea is definitely novel (no pun intended). We follow the main characters through a drunken, lechery-fueled romp of a bar crawl bachelor party. Oh, and about 1/4 of the way through the first book, zombies happen. The books are intended to be comedies of the Hangover variety, which is definitely a new angle for zombie fiction.
Right. So before we start the lynching fires for those of you who like these books. I’ll throw out there that I don’t especially find crude humor funny. I am a profanity wizard myself, but I don’t think every other word needs to be a curse word. I also don’t think that sexist/racist/whatever jokes or comments are okay or funny
(Yeah, I’m one of those). I’m clearly not this book series’ target demographic. What I can offer about the entertainment value of the books is that basically the novels are about middle aged former frat boys who never really matured or grew up past the stage where they think that being an asshole is a necessary part of life. These are the skeevy guys who bother women in bars and resent not getting to take anyone home despite questionable hygiene and who can be found slurring their speech drunkenly at 2 in the afternoon any given weekday, but who sit around and wonder why they don’t have more to show for their lives. The book is probably best enjoyed by those who like toilet humor and sexual humor, but it’s not for me.
Writing Style & Flow 3/5
The scenes were driven by Charlie’s internal monologue primarily. I would describe him as similar to The Dude from The Big Lebowski, except Charlie lacks The Dude’s particular brand of charm and charisma. The other large portion of the story comes from lightning-fast, sassy quips between characters. Unfortunately since most of the language choice and subjects draws the reader back to adolescence so the fast-paced conversation didn’t really take me anywhere that I particularly wanted to go. Further in that regard, there was far more telling than showing when it came to describing events and scenarios. Honestly, I am okay with dialogue heavy books that scrape by with minimal description, providing that the dialogue is actually something that I would be interested in hearing. (Sorry, Charlie.)
Most of the book flowed well because it was all told from the same perspective, but a large chunk of the shifts between characters felt sporadic and felt largely unnecessary. I say this because pretty much everyone who got a part focused on them was despicable in some form or another (when they had enough personality to get some sort of rating at all), so I didn’t care much about where they had come from. (With the exception of a scene I can’t tell you about that I thought was clever.) I just wanted to find out what absurd thing was going to happen next.
Character Description 4/5
Characters were physically described when they were first introduced, and then the remainder of the time they were generally described on the basis of their personalities rather than their appearances. (Spoiler alert: They’re basically just terrible people.) Based on the dialogue you can get a decent feel for the character personalities and their beliefs based on what they choose to talk about and how they refer to other people. …This isn’t to say that the characters are particularly diverse or grow much throughout the book series, but I do want to give credit where credit is due by indicating that Johnson did effectively describe a group of jerks so well that I got annoyed by them, just as I do when I have to deal with jerks in person. 😛
Scene Description 3/5
Although the characters provided most of the scene description from their narration of the story, there was a reasonable amount of description offered when it came to elaborating on different settings and locations. Though, as previously stated, there was a lot of telling going on rather than ornate description, I didn’t take points for that in this section because elaborate use of adjectives or varied word choice would have felt ridiculous coming from Charlie and friends.
Overall Rating 3/5
I didn’t enjoy the books much at all, but I think that is more because they aren’t my style rather than them not being good for what they are. I also don’t like Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler movies, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate them for what they are or recognize that a lot of people actually do find them hilarious. It’s all a matter of taste. These books left a thumping in my head, much like the inevitable hangover which would have set in had these characters sobered up long enough for that to be possible, but that doesn’t mean that I think they’re something that other people won’t enjoy. In fact, if you liked the Hangover and are a big fan of zombie fiction then I would suggest you download the FREE Kindle Reading App which you can use on your computer/on most devices and pick up Weekend at Vidu’s. It’s a $0.99 short that features one of the characters. Although it contains spoilers for the first book, it will help give you a look into the series before you invest fully. (Although you can read all three if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, so that’s always a bonus!)