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Xombies Mass Market Paperback – Aug 2004

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group (Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425197441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425197448
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 10.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,384,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
MY MOTHER AND I missed the news about Agent X because we spent most of that January cooped up in a beach bungalow outside Jerusalem, Rhode Island. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thomas E. O'Sullivan on 26 July 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This books is like the tides... it has highs and lows. When it's riding high, it's a very good book - fast, full of interesting ideas, some very good writing and (a few) clever twists, but when it's low... it gets real low and stays low for too long. Part of the problem with the book is that it's written in the first person. While this goes a long way with building character it does rob the reader of any real surprises. So much so that Greatshell gives the game away before you even get to Chapter One; and then for the rest of the book your're left just skipping through the pages knowing that our herione, Lulu, is going to make it right up until the last chapter and right into the epilouge and then: FADE OUT! Also, by doing the book in first person it creates a linear tunnel. Much like a black hole. There are no side events, no outside observations, we are never able to jump to another part of the world and see what might be happening there (in fact, Greatshell locks Lulu and the reader inside a submarine and under ice for far too long)... no, we're stuck with Lulu, what Lulu knows, doesn't know and nothing more. As it is Lulu never really "discovers" anything in the book - everything is told to her, to us, in the classic "last act" info dump fashion of so many books and movies these days. The shadows behind the motives leap out into the light and spell it out for Lulu and us in several long and dry paragraphs and we roll on right until the end. Some good ideas are present in the book - but to be honest, they mostly mirror books or movies that have come before it. Not the best, but some good moments, but too few and far between. For zombie fans only.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. C. Davies on 28 Sep 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book. I am a huge fan of the survival horror series, but I had been disappointed with other works within the genre. "Xombies" came as a refreshing change. It offered adrenaline-pumping action sequences, witty dialogue, believeable characters, an emotive storyline, all of which was written in an easy-on-the-eyes style. I suggest you purchase this item if you're a fan of the "Resident Evil" series. Highly entertaining.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kim Stanley on 21 Oct 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is more than just the run-of-the-mill zombiefest, it's a literary adventure story that starts with zombies and ventures far beyond the genre to include elements of chick-lit, submarine technothriller, science fiction, and darkly funny social satire (I found the whole thing hilarious - especially the cartoonish, Pythonesque Brits). Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 45 reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Not Just a Zombie Novel, Its Far Much More 18 Aug 2004
By Joshua Koppel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although the cover likens this story to a cross between 28 Days and Lord of the Flies, it is not that simple. 17-year-old Lulu (Louise) is with her mom looking for her father. Just as they seem to be at their destination, a plague sweeps the globe. Victims become crazed with a desire to infect others. There is also a side effect that reanimates the dead.

It is a much changed world that Lulu must navigate looking for some shred of sanity. Lulu suffers from a rare genetic disorder and it seems to have made her immune. Lulu teams up with her supposed father and joins a refugee effort on an old submarine.

Lulu's trek leads her to truths both shocking and unpleasant. We learn more of the plague and how it works. Conspiracies, greed, lust for power, and Lulu herself are all brought together in a very original story that is not just a zombie story. This is more of a cautionary tale that takes the reader into new and original directions. Part horror story, part cautionary tale, and part utopian tale this is a wonderful book that starts fast and just keeps going taking surprise turns all over the place. Check it out.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Writer delivers...the writing is great, the story not bad 11 Aug 2004
By H. J. Spivack - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Xombies is kind of a mish-mash of lots of different ideas already out there. Its Romero-esque zombie apocalypse running 28-Days-Later stylewith Ginger Snaps female hormones wrapped up with Max Max and (of all things) Below.

After all the women of the world go Xombie, also turning the men, a girl who is immune manages to escape aboard an Ohio-class submarine looking for safe haven.

If the writing wasn't so good (its very good) I'd call the novel too derivative to stand on its own but it zips along and you keep turning the pages and surprise...when its done, you're sorry.

Its a worthy read and the end was a pleasant surprise.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Dawn of the Dead meets Apocalypse Now 20 Aug 2004
By Maries - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After seeing the cheesy cover and the title, I was prepared for disappointment. Maybe that's why I was so pleasantly surprised when it turned out not to be a hastily banged-out take off on the Living Dead movies. It IS a Living Dead type story, but the writing is so precise and the story so well-crafted and perfectly paced, that it almost defies the genre with its non-cheesiness.

From the first few pages I was impressed by the sophisticated prose style and evocative descriptions, things I didn't think to find in a zombie horror novel. Even better is the way each chapter is an edge-of-your-seat type of experience, so that you just can't put the book down. I even had to restrain myself from sneaking peeks ahead to see what was going to happen.

The plot starts out simple enough - infectious homicidal corpses run rampant and survivors search for safety. You follow one survivor through her ordeal, as she witnesses horrible things involving maniacal dead people and gets involved with other survivors. The book takes a twist on the zombie genre here, and gets even better as it looks as what happens when the world order crumbles. Zombies are just one of many obstacles that Lulu, the heroine, faces as she tries to find a place in a terribly transformed world. The author's unique vision of this post-apocalyptic world offers a combination of zombie horror, military conspiracy, and futuristic consumerism of the Snow Crash variety. It's impossible to say more without giving away any of the many surprises of this very suspenseful book.

One of the most enjoyable features of the book is the heroine, who defies all stereotypes and never appears weak or "girly." This was refreshing.

Overall, this is a unique book, not just for fans of zombie flicks or horror novels. The writing is a notch above the average thriller and the apocalyptic vision is original. It's like Dawn of the Dead meets Apocalypse Now, and you get the best (or perhaps worst) of both worlds.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"Xombies" is Xcellent for sci-fi fans 24 Sep 2004
By Just That Zombie Grrl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Zombies - in the movies, at least - come in a few varieties. George Romero's original "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) has the traditional slow-moving, flesh-eating zombies. The remake of "Dawn of the Dead" (2004) features zombies that move at a rate normally only seen in Olympic track champions. There are even zombie love stories - such as "Return of the Living Dead 3" (1993), in which the zombies specifically want to eat brains, as opposed to just flesh. Other zombie films explore the cause of zombie-hood - like the viruses in "28 Days Later" and the "Resident Evil" games-turned-movies.

For the most part, zombies - which are disturbing creatures to watch, regardless of whether they're moving fast or slow or what part of the humans they're eating - are featured in movies. Walter Greatshell, however, visits this familiar theme in his first published novel, "Xombies."

They're blue from lack of oxygen and they're determined to attack, and these creatures are called Xombies - with an X - because Agent X causes them to become what they are, not dead and not alive. These undead don't seem very smart - though, in true zombie tradition, they can tell humans from their own kind - but definitely make that up in speed and strength.

This is terrifying to Lulu - a 17-year-old girl who has been traveling with her mother and missed the start of the Agent X outbreak. When Lulu and her mother find out that people are sick and women seem to be in the most danger, at least according to the pre-recorded radio broadcasts they listen to, they hide in fear.

Eventually, they must try and seek additional supplies and find out if any of their neighbors are still alive - including Mr. Cowper, who may be Lulu's estranged father. When Lulu and her mother separate for a few minutes as they scout neighbor's houses, it is just long enough for her mother to be attacked and turned into one of these mindless blue Xombies.

Lulu makes a narrow escape and is rescued by Mr. Cowper. Together, they head - sometimes by driving through a sea of Xombies - to a military existence where Lulu must fight through Xombies and squeeze onto a submarine with an all male crew in order to escape certain death.

It started with the women, they say, the women of childbearing age. These women infected men, children, and women who were not originally affected by Agent X. Lulu seems immune - at least from spontaneous infection that attacks most women her age - because of a medical condition that prevents her from having her "monthly visitor." She assumes, however, that she can still get it through Xombie-attack, same as the men.

With so many Xombies loose, the only option is to escape to the north - in hopes that a colder, less populated area would provide a safe place to relocate and possibly start things over. But conditions on the sub are not favorable - there is too little food, too many people, and for Lulu - hate all around her, she is young and female, neither of which bode well for her with the older crew or the boys in her age group who hassle her because of her gender.

Greatshell does a good job of providing plenty of action - including a fair amount of gore - as the sub's crew and passengers make their way to what they hope is salvation. Surprise after surprise - eventually leading to a shocking and unpredictable ending - are delivered in a book that is dripping in suspense.

"Xombies" is not without fault, and the biggest complaint I have is the amount of story Greatshell packs in one book. While the page length is a modest 346, there seems to be an unrelenting amount of much-needed information, especially in the last quarter of the book, which can easily overwhelm a reader. Despite its title and being a horror novel, this is not light reading.

Greatshell's "Xombies" is well-written, overall, and definitely interesting. However, if your stomach turns at descriptions of blood and violence or if you don't like science fiction, pass on this one. For those who enjoy a good zombie movie, reading "Xombies" is a worthwhile change of pace.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Xtraordinarily UnXpected Xample of Xombie Xpression 18 Feb 2005
By Charles A. Gelinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
How does one review a zombie novel that contains few, if any, zombies? W.Greatshell's "Xombies", while peopled on the periphery of the novel's action with virtually unstoppable hordes of Xombies (reanimated people Xisting on a higher level of the evolutionary ladder), is devoid of any significant zombie-on-human action through much of the story. The Xistence of the Xombies acts as an impetus for the protagonists to flee in their nuclear submarine to the Xombie-unfriendly wastes of the Arctic circle. There they discover a comic-booky enclave of humanity undertaking last ditch efforts to stem the Xombie tide, though in ways that might not be in the best interest of humanity.

The Xombies emerged from the activities of a viral strain that initially affected women with active menstrual cycles (so menopausal women, little girls and genetic abnormalities like our heroine Lulu are immune from the initial infection, though they and all men could still succumb to a Xombie's "kiss"). This is a cliche done to death already in Werewolf, Vampire and Fantasy fiction, so why not here as well, right? But Greatshell's interesting conception quickly falls into narrative pieces.

Lulu and her mother are attacked by Xombies while staying in a boarded-up summer community in Rhode Island (in the best tradition of "Clicker"'s Phillipsport, Maine). It is quickly discovered that bashing them with cars, braining them with tools, shooting them in the face dozens of times, cutting them into little pieces, using explosives, poisoning them and spraying napalm all over them have only limited effect in hindering them, and do not kill them. The infected, more like mutant smurfs on sci-fi overcharged steroids, quickly drive our survivors to a supersecret Air Force base in the arctic.

And this is where Greatshell's novel begins to hit the wall. The Xombies are simply too powerful to provide any level of suspense in the story or to enable the author to continue along the lines of a prototypical, excellent zombie novel. The Xombies are as "high-concept" or "literary" as a zombie could be. The story reverts from a zombie survival tale to a disingenuously overt, snarky, hipster version of Lord of the Flies that might have been better left to its graphic novel form, truth be told. Any of the gore, violence, grittiness and desparation of the standard zombie tale have largely been Xcised. Xombies become "Big Metaphors", humanity succumbs to being "Semiotic Representations" and the readers learn "Universal Lessons About Life, Love and the Human Condition".

And Greatshell then quickly flounders in this new turn as well. Whereas a Golding or even a skilled satirist might have used Greatshell's super-secret arctic base to really tap into the perversity and self-defeat of modern organized government and western society, Greatshell pushes the story to a certain limited point and then sloppily ties it together in a fantastical ending with the re-emergence of the Xombies.

The only saving graces for this novel (from the perspective of both the zombie genre as well as political satire/social commentary) were the excellent writing, haunted imagery and the verve, willfulness, spunk and attitude he lovingly imparts to our heroine Lulu. Most of the other characters in the work fail to really touch any kind of chord with the reader or else have such ambiguous roles in and import to the development of the story that the reader, sighing in frustration at the obvious effort Greatshell put into fleshing out their story lives and deaths, is left confused and not a little bored.

Overall, I would suggest not purchasing "Xombies" unless you are a true zombie fan and desire to taste the fruits of some truly tepid, literary zombie horror.
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