"Zombie Bake-Off" Book Review
Written by Stephen Graham Jones
2012, 264 pages, Fiction
Released on January 27th, 2012
It sounds like an awful joke, but the zombie genre simply refuses to die. Every time it seems like nothing new and amazing will come our way, an author with serious writing chops and a superb imagination puts his or her unique touch on the undead and injects new life into a genre that at times threatens to be as smelly and deceased as the shambling carcasses it describes. This time, the breath of remarkably fresh air comes from Stephen Graham Jones' Zombie Bake-Off. The book is what happens when an award-winning author flexes his muscles and decides to have fun with a genre while simultaneously eviscerating it.
Zombie Bake-Off drops readers into a strange place: an annual gathering of pastry lovers in Lubbock, Texas. A group of suburban women are busy sharing their passion and recipes when a group of wrestlers crashes the event. The entertainment warriors are scheduled to perform later at the same venue, but showing up early means they clash with the sugar-loving soccer moms. Tempers run high and small conflicts erupt, but the differences between those that drive minivans and those that use steroids will soon turn into the least of their concerns. When a bunch of wrestlers devour an infected batch of donuts, they turn into senseless brain-eaters. To make things worse, the doors of the convention center have been chained shut and the key dangles from the neck of shambler. What follows is an explosive mix of humor, blood, donuts, violence, survival and even a bit of cooking.
Jones is a writer with a knack for humor that's only rivaled by his flair for limb-tearing, name-calling, brain-scooping violence and gore. His talents take zombie fiction to new heights and in unusual directions. Zombie Bake-Off is as much of an homage to a place the author loves and a genre he enjoys as it is a deconstruction of clichés and a celebration of language.
Although Jones possesses a distinctive voice, his writing in Zombie Bake-Off has an almost chameleonic quality that makes reading it a real pleasure. The narrative gets rolling with a good dose of smart humor and the uncomfortable weirdness that comes from inserting larger-than-life characters full of bulging muscles into the relaxed, Martha Stewart-esque world of ladies sharing baking recipes. Then it moves on to pure, adrenaline-pumping horror before jumping to what reads like the best intellectual tribute to campy zombie films. The best way to explain Jones' prose to those not familiar with it is to ask them to imagine Chuck Palahniuk's blind bastard child with Harry Crews writing a funny, gory novel while trying to channel Joe Lansdale's subconscious.
Zombie Bake-Off is fast, witty, original and ridiculously entertaining. Stephen Graham Jones has created an action-packed literary pastry that packs a sugar rush you just have to experience.