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REVIEW: The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair

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Dear Ms Sinclair,

You really love Star Trek, don’t you? Not that I hold that against you. I love it too, including the original series (TOS) with Kirk where men were men and women were, well, sometimes they were clouds of energy that sucked the very life from you, but at some point they could always kiss back.

Your book really reminds me of TOS. No nice Klingons here. The villains are evil bastards without a hint of redeemable material. The monsters? Screw IDIC, kill them all. (IDIC, for the reader, is a Vulcan ideal, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, actually mentioned in the book).

And the hero and heroine don’t spend all that much time on introspection. Sure, they’ve both had major problems, especially the heroine, but other than the occasional nightmare she seems to buzz right past them. But then that could be alien psychology, or military psychology, which is at times even more mysterious.

It’s fairly clear from the hint you dropped at the end of the book that the similarities were intentional. So it’s a fairly fun action adventure with the hero and heroine finding love a bit more quickly and inexplicably than one might expect but hey, they were slower than James Kirk and harem.

The thing is, halfway through the book, I started thinking about John M. Ford’s the Final Reflection. I’m sure you’ve read it, but if not: It’s a Star Trek novel, set in a time slightly before TOS, and whenever people speak of “good ST novels”, this one heads the list, not just because Ford is a brilliant writer, but because he wrote what no one else had contemplated. The book takes place in the Klingon Empire from the point of view of a human prisoner, one who comes to see the Klingons are as ‘human’ as the rest of us. The point Ford made, rather stunning the ST community at the time, was that villains are never just that.

And in this book I found I rather missed that other dimension. The Tresh are good old-school Klingons, pure evil. But it made them rather uninteresting to me, so I didn’t particularly enjoy that source of conflict much. I found myself hoping that you’d do another book using one of the Tresh for a hero or heroine, and reveal them to be more. Unfortunately, a future book wouldn’t help the one I was reading.

As for the zombies, I liked their Frankenstein’s monster aspect. It gave their creators depth, which in turn made me want to know more about them. The zombies did seem a little easy to beat though, if a cop with a Glock and decent aim could take them out. It made me wonder why a special Guardian Force was needed.

Still, those readers who have enjoyed your past adventures, and those who enjoy a good old episode of the original Star Trek will probably enjoy this. For me it was akin to a middle of the road episode of TOS, one where the story was conveniently set on an earth-like planet with human-like aliens and Kirk gets the girl. But if readers preferred Deep Space Nine and more character driven conflict, they might want to steer themselves toward your Gabriel’s Ghost.

Sincerely,

ジェーン
(Jān)

reads any genre as long as the books aren't depressing. Her preferred reads these days are in manga format and come from all manga genres, but she especially likes romance, doubly so when there are beautiful men involved. With each other. Her favorites among currently-running English-translated manga series include NANA, Ze, Ouran High School Host Club, Junjou Romantica, Blood Alone, Vampire Knight, Skip Beat, Silver Diamond and anything by the holy triumvirate of BL: Ayano Yamane, Kazuma Kodaka and Youka Nitta, including any scribbles they might do on the backs of napkins.

10 Comments

  1. Janine
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 15:13:15

    Interesting dueling reviews and differing persepctives. Though I have Gabriel’s Ghost in my TBR pile only Sinclair I have read is Games of Command, which I liked very much, because of the hopelesly in love and forced to repress his emotions hero. I reviewed the book here. Is the romance in The Down Home Zombie Blues similar to the one in Games of Command? Does anyone know?

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  2. Lisa
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 15:33:51

    Thank you for reviewing another Science Fiction Romance. I’ve read all of Linnea’s books and have liked them all — but Gabriel’s Ghost is indeed my favorite. I am looking forward to reading The Down Home Zombie Blues.

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  3. Jan
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 15:57:04

    I still haven’t read Games of Command Janine, sorry. It’s the only one of hers I’ve not read, and I just can’t seem to get into it.

    Lisa, I too think Gabriel’s Ghost is her best. I just wish she’d get the ending to us. I guess it’s due out next year?

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  4. Linnea Sinclair
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 16:58:37

    Well, hi! I wish there was a way to post to both your terrific and thoughtful reviews at once. Maybe I can just put a pointer to the other saying, Go Here. ;-) I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. To make matters worse, I’m just finding these two reviews (via google crawler) when I have to bolt out of the home/office in five minutes. Oy. There’s simply no time for a reply other than, again, thank you for taking the time to read THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES and comment on it.

    Briefly, yes, I’m a Trekker of long standing. I wrote Zombie primarly for fun. Well, I write all my books for fun. No secret, that. But I was also aware that I might be read by non-SF readers and Trek is a common meeting ground (most media SF is…far more watch then read). To me, the book is Men In Black meets CSI: Miami. If you understand that as impetus, much should make sense. Like the title, tongue was firmly planted in cheek when writing great chunks of it.

    I apologize profusely for my short answer because it does no justice to the time you both took to write your reviews. If tomorrow or the next day is not too late and you’d like further comment, life may be more manageable then. Time is just in very short supply at the moment due to deadlines and a family illness.

    Again, many thanks for your sincere efforts. Best regards from sunny Naples, FL, ~Linnea

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  5. clara bow
    Nov 29, 2007 @ 17:21:07

    >he zombies did seem a little easy to beat though, if a cop with a Glock and decent aim could take them out.

    Yeah, but there are always a lot of them! Aim for the head. (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    Thanks for these two reviews of DHZB, and a chance for SFR fans to have two reviews in one day! Can I just go off topic here and state how much I love this site? I love this site! I’ve been lurking for over a year now and even if I don’t have an interest in every single article/review, I still visit daily and I learn and laugh a lot. Thanks to all!

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  6. Jan
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 09:56:03

    Thanks for taking the time to read the reviews Linnea. I’m probably the only person in the US who’s never watched CSI, LOL so I stuck with an older school reference.

    The title seemed to bother two of my co-reviewers here who thought it would be off-putting to romance readers (and it was, to them). To me it just signaled that it would be set in the South somewhere, and that it would be a book to be read just for fun.

    We also had quite a discussion about the covers. I preferred the blue, while another preferred the red. I think the blue would attrack more romance readers, and the red more SF.

    And, talking about covers, the new re-issue ones you’ve shared are ghastly. They don’t reflect the books at all. But one of the reviewers here liked them. Go figure LOL.

    I think the DHZB is a fun book, a day at the amusement park, or a trip to the movies to see Tremors, and anyone looking for that won’t be disappointed. I hope I made that clear. But since a review has to reflect my experience it just wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, and readers coming at it from my perspective would want to know that.

    I do enjoy your books though, and am really, really looking forward to the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost. Next year, right?

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  7. Lynne Connolly
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 10:41:22

    Again, many thanks for your sincere efforts. Best regards from sunny Naples, FL, ~Linnea”

    Do you know you can go off a person? It’s cold and damp here in not sunny England.
    I love Linnea’s books and I was lucky enough to discover them right from the start. A best seller from the word go, nobody works harder and is an all-around fun person. And she is dynamite in person. Tiny dynamite but the smallest packages sometimes have the biggest explosions!
    I think that energy is reflected in her books. No wilting heroines, although they’re always feminine, no standard alpha heroes, although they’re always strong and protective. But nobody would confuse Kel-Paten with Gabriel Sullivan.
    All her books have something different to offer and it’s great to see her sense of humour emerge in her books as it does in this one.

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  8. Linnea Sinclair
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 12:11:55

    Hi all! I posted a long-ish answer on the other half/dueling review here. I mean, there. I mean…sheesh. This is more confusing than a PMaT transfer! ;-) ~Linnea, poolside at the Home for the Perpetually Confused, sucking down lattes and admiring the pool boys’….uh, charms.

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  9. Linnea Sinclair
    Nov 30, 2007 @ 12:17:01

    Oh, sorry, forget to answer the Q. Yes, SHADES OF DARK will be out July 2008. That’s the sequel to GABRIEL’S GHOST though per Bantam policy it will NOT say ‘sequel’ anywhere on the cover, so that’s sadly bound to confuse some readers. I tried, lost the battle. An author has to pick and choose the ones she can win, the ones she cannot. “Corporate Policy” is one tough nut to crack. And on that cliche-ridden note, I have to log off and get to work. Again, thanks so much. Namaste, Om Shanti, ~Linnea

    ::hands Lynne Connolly a Long Island Iced Tea, one of the things I used to corrupt her when she came to the Colonies earlier this year…::

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  10. Kimber An
    Dec 02, 2007 @ 19:35:49

    That’s funny. I’m a major Trekkie and a big Linnea Sinclair fan too, and I didn’t think Original Series Star Trek at all when I read it. Is it possible the reviewer saw the words Science Fiction and had that filter on when she started reading? That’s not intended as a criticism. I do that when I read a genre or sub-genre I don’t read all the time. My brain picks out the closest thing I know to it and I have that filter on going in.

    I read the ARC way back in…what? April? And I reviewed it on my review blog, enduringromance.blogspot.com My feeling was “Old Hollywood Horror with Aliens.” I loved it! I’m especially critical of stories in which the Hero and Heroine meet and jump in the sack and I’m supposed to believe they’re going to live happily ever after based on fantastic nookie alone. That really insults what intelligence I have. I didn’t sense any of that with Theo and Jorie. They were both complicated and deep. They had real fears, hurts, and yet they had the strength of soul to work together towards a common goal. When they got together, they clicked. It was like when I first met my husband and people would look at us together, then take me aside and say, “You two are going to get married.” I thought it was a beautiful example of how two people from different races and cultures (say, white-as-a-bleached-sheet woman from the North and an African American man from Mississippi) can meet and click together because they are such complimentary souls on the inside that color doesn’t matter.

    Most writers create cartoon villains when they write stories in which the bad guys are totally bad. And I hate that. But, I didn’t get that at all with Linnea’s zombies. Like I said, it felt like Old Hollywood Horror and, yeah, Men In Black. I don’t read Horror, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of Old Hollywood Horror. So, it works for me.

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