I just finished reading Opening Night of the Dead by Blake M. Petit. Before I get into the book, which was kindly sent to me by the author for an honest review, I want to say something about the way in which I read it. Opening Night of the Dead was the first novel I have entirely read on my Kindle App. I found it a different experience than reading an actual book. I've read other things with my different reading apps, but they were either read concurrently with the hard copy or not fiction. I find reading on a tablet (my iPad) distracting, yet oddly convenient. If I suddenly wondered about something, whether in the actual story or just my mind wandering, I had the quick ability to stop and look it up. Does it speak to the quality of the story? Maybe. But I also had this problem when I read Dracula (iBook and real book at the same time). Yet, I found it convenient. I could just pull it out and read it where ever I was; it’s so portable! I could grab a quick page while cooking or in the car. If I was watching television and there was a boring part on, I could just whip out my iPad without getting up to get an actual book (or sometimes not getting up at all and flipping channels; this speaks to my lazy side). In the end, I still like reading actual books better.
Opening Night of the Dead was a fun foray in to zombie fiction. There was a lot of action and some interesting characters. There were, in fact, a lot of characters. Which is fine, but I found having back story on so many of them made the beginning of the story a little slow for me. For the first part of the book, I kept itching for it to get to the good stuff. Part of what slowed me down was the formatting of the book. There were odd breaks in the middle of paragraphs and dialogue. It was a bit annoying in the dialogue, pulling me out of the story, because I couldn't always tell who was speaking until I re-read it. I received the "reviewers copy" of the book, so maybe (hopefully) this isn't an issue with the actual Kindle version or with the print copy. Bad formatting/typesetting with a book always bothers me.
The first two characters who really appealed to me were Tim and Casey. I liked their back story, every piece of information about them; I enjoyed it when these dead/undead cops were the focus. Even in a book that’s all about zombies, I want good characters. I want them to accomplish something. I want them to learn and grow, like the other main group, Max, Brie and Marissa. I liked Josh too, once I realized why I was getting so much information on him.
The action was great. Petit knows how to write about a zombie being shot in the head. It made it easy to get into the flow of the book. Once the zombies started roaming and the escaping needed to happen, it got very exciting. Petit made the mobs of people and the guards realistic. There were the selfish ones, the ones who denied they were bit and became a danger and there were the ones who did the right thing.
I also liked the clues that Petit kept dropping throughout the novel. The characters kept talking about the “Curtain”. Tim and Casey had been dead long enough that they didn’t know what that was. When they learned about it, so did the reader. That’s why there was an “expert” on the movie set. It wasn’t just a B.S. expert; it was an actual zombie hunter.
I also hated Marissa for most of the novel. It was only at the end that I actually liked her, but she was necessary. She was supposed to have that sort of attitude to make the conclusion the way it was. I actually wondered for a minute if Max was going to end up with Marissa. Kind of awful, but kind of right too.
For a lot of the story, the women didn’t seem to be doing much. Max saved them, then the zombie hunter, then Tim and Casey. As a woman, for a while I was wondering if these ladies were in the story just to fight with each other. They never swung a bat or shot a gun. Was it because the men just happened to be the ones with the weapons? Did it just fit with their characters? One was a make-up artist and the other was a gossip reporter. In the end though, they used their brains and their skills. Brie actually used make-up and Marissa used her website. They had world-saving ideas. How do I feel about the idea that the men were brawny and the women were brainy? I don’t know. Once the women became more active in their own survival, I started enjoying the story even more.
Opening Night of the Dead was a fun, entertaining and quick read. The ending also invites the possibility of some kind of sequel. It is a good book for any zombie fiction fan.
(One final comment on Opening Night of the Dead: Why isn’t this book on Goodreads? The author is, along with all his other books. But not this one? It was released on June 20th! I know I only joined Goodreads a few months ago, but I really like the updating of my status and posting reviews there, but alas, no Goodreads this time.)