Simmons’ exciting apocalyptic zombie novel plays upon feelings of discontent, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty, loneliness and trepidation.
Unlikely comrades, ex IRA operative Mairead Burns and RIR soldier Roy Beggs forge an alliance based on circumstance and necessity. Their partnership sees them rebuild community life within a school. From survival horror to dictatorship, Simmons invites readers to consider who would pose a greater threat in a zombie apocalypse, mindless flesh eating zombies or humankind.
Simultaneously, a solitary Preacherman roams the streets spilling his sermon of God’s wrath for all who will listen. As he progresses he collects the broken-hearted and needy. Simmons paints the picture of the Preacherman so well that you can almost hear his voice with each flicker of the page. Perhaps the greatest tragedy within Simmons’ apocalyptic outing is that he does not develop The Preacherman as fully as the other subplots.
The survivors that gather together at the hotel continue the theme of unlikely alliances. A DJ, tattooist, teenage lovers and a man with dark secrets gather in a den of debauchery that mixes heavy drinking, cocaine binges and relationship politics.
Drop Dead Gorgeous is not your average zombie novel. Simmons invests so much energy into the characters that the undead don’t start rising until the latter stages of the novel. Having said this, Simmons does tease the reader early on with an imagining of zombies. This promise of what’s to come is a delicious one that is delivered in the chaotic climax.
Simmons’ decision not to develop certain sections further speaks more of the rich caveat of cleverly crafted characters than of fundamental flaws. With a conclusion that screams sequel, pristinely preserved corpses and well thought out characters, Drop Dead Gorgeous establishes itself as a solid apocalyptic vision.