Well here we are again, our fourth go around with zombie Angel Crawford and various misadventures. Except… it’s not really our fourth time, it’s more like part four of a single adventure and that’s part of my problem with the book. This time, author Diana Rowland picks up the action a few months past where the last book left off, but the only advantage that gives us we get the off-screen resolutions of some of the events of last time, but a lot of the major events which were unresolved then start off now, still unresolved.
Don’t worry though, Rowland is relatively good with dropping exposition bombs to catch up new readers, which only feel like “see last iss. – Ed.” about half the time but otherwise the action pretty much picks up where we left off. The evil Saberton Corporation is still experimenting with zombies, the Zombie Mafia (now redubbed “The Tribe”) is still doing what they can in the way of zombie research and Angel is still having her own social problems. All this is well and good but it feels like we can’t ever gain any traction. Angel is growing as a character, sure (more on that in a bit, though) but she’s never able to stop and start something new. Even in the comics and soap operas story arcs come to an end so new ones can start up again. And the way this book ended I can see Rowland has at least one but probably two more books, at least, planned out on this same arc, building on more continuous storylines started in this and previous books.
In this particular book, though, Saberton kidnaps high placed Tribe zombies (although, to be fair, it’s never really made clear as to why those people or why they are doing what they’re doing). Ostensibly, it has to do with their plan to make an army of zombie “Zoldiers” but for a huge, multi-national company they really go about things ass-backwards. But since they have kidnapped Angel’s people, she is honor bound by the code of bad ass southern chicks to retrieve them. The fact she’s in no way qualified doesn’t stop anyone from letting her come along. Of course, as is the case in these types of books (and don’t get me wrong, this is a fun book) Angel comes through and is instrumental in saving the day.
Along the way, though, Rowland gets a little too Deus ex Machina for my tastes. All of a sudden the zombies have new powers which come in oh so handy as a means of escape and Angel becomes a one woman zombie creating machine. The relationships between her and the other characters are fine, if a little obvious at times (best friends who suddenly turn on each other and then turn back). Even Angel being cutely redneck and the “white trash” of the title are all bits of easily digestible story (kinda like dried brain chips).
And that’s the thing, really. I like Angel Crawford and I’ve enjoyed the books up until now. It’s been fun to watch Angel get her shit together, rebuild her relationship with her father and actually seem to be taking some control of her life with an impressive amount of agency. But then, in the last few minutes (I listened to this one as I have the other three – and a special shout out to narrator Allison McLemore who is amazing), it seems that the “Groove” she’s getting back is reverting right back to her old ways. Once an addict always an addict, sure, but for a fun series this is not the best way to show your lead character’s faults. Give her new problems… except you can’t because there’s all sorts of loose ends in this books which will need to be resolved in book 5.
Sad to say though, I may not stick around for book 5. If it’s just another step on a path without end, why bother?