Eat Me is formally a series of disconnected short stories, each set in a progressively further future and populated by completely different characters. However, the collection as a whole forms a novelistic arc of the history of a zombie armageddon, from present times through the end of our current civilization and into to what follows.
And even though the book itself is fairly short (at 170 pages), the tale is epic. Each story stands very well on its own; by giving himself the luxury to progress through time and different characters' lives, Weeks frees himself to explore some very interesting new ideas (and to bypass entirely those boring, undying cliches that seem to infest zombie fiction, the evil biker gang and the evil military).1 But even beyond the effectiveness of the individual stories, the whole creates something even greater: an apocalyptic panorama that is variably exciting, humorous, sad, and uplifting.
If Eat Me has any (minor) flaw, it is that all of the characters have similar voices. The collection is professionally written and edited, and I enjoy Weeks' casual yet muscular writing style. But Weeks especially excels at a snarky, sarcastic tone (as is apparent from The Adventures of Portly Boy and Weeks' blog, The Strangelands). In Eat Me, no matter the supposed background of the character narrating a particular story or the overall tone of that piece, one can sense that persona lurking close by.
But this is a minor quibble. Even if all the characters sound a bit similar, they are also similarly captivating, and I can unreservedly recommend Eat Me to anyone who is looking for zombie fiction that is epic in scope, imagination, and the range of emotion it inspires (if not in page count).
In addition to his book writing, Weeks occasionally reviews other authors' novels on his blog. He has been especially fulsome in his praise for the first two novels in Rhiannon Frater's As the World Dies zombie trilogy, The First Days and Fighting to Survive (click titles for Weeks' reviews; click here to purchase The First Days, Fighting to Survive or the third book, Siege, as ebooks from Smashwords, or here for paperback or Kindle versions from Amazon). I agree with the core of Weeks' review, which is that Frater's writing is very strong, particularly her characterization:
Her characters are interesting, and the story trucks along at a good speed. There's gore and death and all that other fun stuff you expect from a zombie story, but there's also an actual story, so it isn't just a bunch of people you don't care about getting chased by dead things.
Nonetheless, I have a bit more difficulty with the plotting in the trilogy than Weeks apparently does. I fully enjoyed The First Days, which seemed wholly fresh and avoided the "evil gang / military" cliche discussed above. However, even though the writing remains involving, the crux of the action in the second novel (as foreshadowed in the first) involves an evil gang. I haven't read the third novel yet, but am concerned that an evil military may be involved.
I very well may be wrong (which is the problem with discussing books one hasn't even read yet). And even if I'm right, Frater's writing is strong enough that I can add my recommendation to Weeks' for anyone whose personal prejudices about how zombie novels should be plotted do not coincide with mine.
1 Seriously, why do so many zombie novels and films feel compelled to revisit the tired old trope of the eeeevil biker gang or soldiers, whose main pastime is invariably sexual subjugation? I'm not necessarily arguing that such evildoers wouldn't arise in the 'real' world after the collapse of civilization. But aren't other people bored of reading about it? As Ken Begg recently observed over on Jabootu.net when reviewing the movie The Infestation:
The film does at least a couple of things very right. First, there’s no human villain to waste time on. I remember how glad I was to hear that Piranha 3-D was going that route, and this proves that I was on the right track in this regard. Amazingly, the filmmakers apparently [recognized] there was enough juice in a giant bug apocalypse to drive the narrative, and that eeeevil military or corporate scientists were not required.
I couldn't agree more. Isn't there enough juice in a zombie apocalypse to drive the narrative, such that eeeevil biker gangs or soldiers are not required?