Nearly a year ago we had the pleasure of reviewing the zombie book, and author Colin M. Drysdale’s debut novel, For Those in Peril on the Sea. Evidently Colin has been writing a lot since then because he’s released a collection of zombie and apocalyptic themed short stories. He was nice enough to provide a review copy of this compilation entitled, Zombies Can’t Swim And Other Tales of The Undead.
This book is a collection of nearly two dozen short stories. Many of them were previously published on the author’s blog but some are unique to this book. I’m typically not a fan of short stories and before we go further I should probably explain why.
It’s probably not fair, but whenever I hear the words “short story” I tend to think “hastily written” or “poorly developed.” I’m certainly no scholarly author myself, but I’ve read enough ill-conceived short stories (zombie or otherwise) to know “short story” is often a synonym for “lazy” or “incomplete.” It’s not that writing a short story is easy (composing an engaging brief undead tale is probably sometimes more difficult than writing a full-length zombie novel) it’s just the short story is often used as crutch for those unable to craft a respectable novel.
Fortunately none of the above apply to Zombies Can’t Swim and Other Tales of The Undead. With that in mind, here are my thoughts after reading Colin M. Drysdale’s latest offering from cover to cover. On with the review!
Zombies Can’t Swim And Other Tales of The Undead Review:
I was worried the short stories would also be short on detail, short on gore or simply lacking enough meat in the plot to keep me interested. Those fears proved to be unfounded. The majority of the terse tales in this collection are so well written and so engaging they leave you yearning for more. There’s at least a few stories in this compilation I’d love to see expanded into full length novels.
I found these stories more realistic than many zombie novels I’ve read. I really liked the fact that Mr. Drysdale acknowledges the fact that the good guy doesn’t always win, especially when it comes to the apocalypse and the days of the undead roaming the earth. Things don’t always work out for the best. Sometimes the most logical or easiest conclusion to a zombie story isn’t always the prettiest or most desirable for the protagonist.
One of the wonderful aspects of the short story genre is it affords authors the freedom of abruptness. When space is limited we don’t need to develop characters throughout many chapters. There’s no need to worry about lengthy back stories; no need for foreshadowing. This freedom allows the reader, and the author, to focus mainly on the present moment or the immediate future. Since readers don’t spend hundreds of pages getting invested in a character, this freedomt also permits the story teller to end things on their terms. I found this to be pretty refreshing and it is just one of the reasons I loved this book.
Perfect for Reading in Short Bursts: A collection of short zombie themed stories is perfect for busy zombie fans that don’t have a ton of time to read. This is also the ideal solution for those with a short attention span. I loved being able to pick up this book and read a short story or two when I needed a break from my daily activities. While I could have easily sat down and read through this in a single session, I loved the option to pick up with a new story later on. The fact that there was no need to flip back through chapters in an effort to recall what happened three days ago when I last had time to read was simply icing on the cake for me.
Well Written: Short doesn’t mean uninteresting in this case. These are all concise short stories that will suck you in. They are so delightfully descriptive and painfully pithy you’ll have a burning desire to read to the end of each one before putting the book down.
Author’s Notes: The end of most stories in this book features an “Author’s Notes” section. It’s a very cool little blurb where Mr. Drysdale provides some deeper insight on things such as why a story was written, how the idea came about or simply a way to provide more information on a topic.
Great Proof-Reading and Editing: I found no mistakes or glaring content issues with this novel that could detract from the reader’s enjoyment. That sometimes seems like a welcome exception to the rule in the world of zombie themed fiction.
Meh. What’s Not So Great:
There really isn’t much that displeases me with this zombie book. That being said, few things are perfect and Zombies Can’t Swim is no exception.
Cover Art: It’s not that the cover art for Zombies Can’t Swim is terrible, it’s just not great. The blue, black and yellow color scheme is certainly attention grabbing but the artwork just doesn’t match the quality of the content within this compilation of zombie short stories. Hiring a professional to design your book cover isn’t cheap but we think it would be a good idea here. We shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but many people do. We fear many people might pass on this book and miss the wonderfully written zombie content simply because it has a boring cover.
The Pain of Partiality: Some of the short stories in this book leave you hanging. Many don’t exactly end with a clear black and white conclusion. Readers are left with an imagination running wild and a hunger for a complete full length version of the tale so we can have the resolution our brains so desperately seek.
4.75 Out of 5
Zombies Can’t Swim was a great read and we highly recommend fans of the zombie and post-apocalyptic fiction genres pick up a copy of their own. The shorter stories are perfect for busy zombie fans to digest in several sessions. While the cover art wasn’t up to par with the great content between their pages, it certainly isn’t a reason for not owning this fantastic zombie book.
About the Author: For more information about Colin M. Drysdale visit his official site at www.forthoseinperil.net.
Disclaimer: The author provided a copy of this book for purposes of critical review and for a promotional product giveaway. While this didn’t impact our opinion of the product(s)in any way, we felt obligated to mention this potential material connection. Please see our Review Policy and Terms for information and complete details on the policies regarding our reviews.