Originally written and published on TS Alan’s blog December 2013.
I will admit that I am tired of the whole zombie thing. Did a guy who writes mostly in that genre just say that? Yeah, I did. As an author of zombie stories and a film critic, it is a necessity that I read and watch all things zombie. Lately, I have watched dozens of zombie films and read a plethora of stories most of which have been genuinely uninspiring. A rehash of the same old plot—a small band of survivors holding out against the threat of a zombie horde—that I have seriously considered not writing anymore zombie stories. That was until I was asked to read Tonia Brown’s Badass Zombie Road Trip.
Tonia Brown’s Badass Zombie Road Trip is not just another zombie story about surviving in a post-apocalyptic zombie infested world. In fact it has nothing to do with a zombie apocalypse or its aftermath. Brown has taken an interesting turn on the genre and infused it with new life. Here she presents us with two friends, Jonah and Dale. The first is smart, kindhearted and good natured — a sweet and lovable looser — and the later, an uncouth, obnoxious foul-mouthed, unemployed womanizer—you know, a real douche nozzle. They’re two complete polar opposites that somehow manage to be best friends.
On a road trip to Reno for a gig, Jonah and Dale stop at a diner to discuss where they want to go afterwards. Jonah suggests California so Dale can visit his estranged father, but Dale is adamant that California is a place that he never wishes to visit again, because of things that happened in his past. This, however, doesn’t stop Jonah from doing what he thinks is right, uniting father and son.
Waking from a nap, Dale realizes he’s where he doesn’t want to be, and the duo are quickly pulled over by a patrol officer who is anything but the law. The Lord of Darkness has come to claim Dale’s soul for deeds of his past, and take it he does. However, Jonah isn’t about to let sleeping corpses lie or his best friend lay to rot. So he makes a wager with Satan. If he can find Dale’s soul within seven days, Satan will give it back. But if Jonah looses the bet, he has to pay the Devil his due with both their souls. However, Jonah can’t drive around the country with the corpse of his friend in the back seat of the car, so Satan brings Dale back to an undead state with all the quirks of being a zombie—the hunger for flesh and the fetid smell of a rotting corpse. And this is where the road trip hijinx, the trouble and the test of friendship begin.
So here is my summary:
Badass Zombie Road Trip is smartly written with well-developed characters, witting banter and outlandish situations. Although I found the first two chapters to be a bit wordy and in need of some minor trimming, it really kicks in when the Lord of the Underworld makes his appearance. If you loved the Pierce Brothers’ 2011 zombie road comedy film DeadHeads, you’ll truly enjoy this read. Highly Recommended.