Dead Lez Walking – G. Benson

4.5⭐️ – Reading about a virus that turns people into zombies during a pandemic? Hell yeah! I mean, no. But G Benson wrote the book and I love every book of hers I’ve read, absolutely loved, they’re all in my personal Hall of fame, and the best thing is they’re romances with a whole lot of angst, the kind of angst I adore and this one is a zombie book. It’s so not what you’d expect after the wonder that was The Thing About Tilly. How could I resist?

I’m not even going to attempt summarizing the story, there are way too many characters – I guess the MCs are Taren and Joy but everyone is important –, all fantastic, and the action is mainly running away from zombies and the virus that turned them. In a hospital surrounded by police and military types. There’s blood, there’s death, there’s romance and microwaved burgers. And so so so much more.

Each chapter starts with the name of the character whose point of view it’s told from and a time, each header very much like the character it’s linked to. My favourites are Taren’s, always sounding like she’s so over this. One is “It could be the next day. Who even knows?” and that’s a very good summary of the atmosphere and how the pace picks up, both for the characters and readers, so much is happening, there’s so much blood and dreadful stuff, keeping track of time or anything else is impossible. Which is exactly how it should be. It’s terrifying for the characters and exciting for the reader, witnessing it all from the safety of being outside of the book. Heart thumping but safe.

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I can’t stand blood. The smell of blood is the worst, but the sight of it is challenging as well. I can imagine both all too easily. OR scenes in Grey’s Anatomy are enough to make me turn my head away. As much as I wanted to read this book, I might not have been able to enjoy it so much if not for Joy being a vascular surgeon with a blood phobia. There’s kinship in shared phobia. And it doesn’t hurt that Joy is a total badass when she needs to be.

I don’t watch horror movies. I can read horror (not often, though, I don’t even have a category for horror on this blog) but I can’t watch. I had no trouble imagining some of the scenes on a big screen though, and strangely enough, instead of feeling horrified, I felt exhilarated.

I also found it interesting that Dead Lez Walking follows the three unities rule of tragedy almost to the letter: unity of time (one day), unity of place (the hospital for the most part), unity of action (zombies!).

I already knew Benson writes angst incredibly well. I shouldn’t be surprised she can insert that heart-wrenching stomach-churning quality in gory scenes just as well. This mix of humour (mostly dark), melancholy, and downright gruesome moments results in excellent and diverse characters, a delightfully inappropriate romance between idiots (which I of course love), and a whole lot of adrenaline.

There’s this tension between Taren and Joy, unresolved feelings, that makes them keep noticing things they shouldn’t be noticing in these dire circumstances: the warmth of a hand, soft eyes, shy smiles… It’s really sweet and kinda hot.

I almost wrote that this book was a lot of fun. And gore. But it’s not, fun I mean. It’s better than that. On the surface, it’s full of clever horror clichés and dark humour, and underneath it’s about who people really are. Crises have a way of bringing the real you out. Freaking out isn’t a weakness when what’s happening really is scary. But solidarity, strength in numbers, putting others’ needs before yours for the greater good, all are very reassuring reactions that reminded me of what I’ve witnessed many times since the beginning of the pandemic (covid, not the zombies).

I don’t have zombie nightmares but I wouldn’t read this too close to meals. And I don’t know how Benson managed this but I feel grateful I live in a world where a virus might kill me but not the people fighting it.

5-stars

Dead Lez Walking @ amazon

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