Rating: 4.5 stars
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The Zombie Boyz anthology features three stories from three fabulous author teams. It is a really great collection and each story is quite distinct in the style from the rest. We get one that is humorous and quirky, one that is an exciting race for survival, and one that is creepy and terrifying. I thought the whole thing was fabulous and the stories work together really well.
Guess Who’s Coming at Dinner by Geoffrey Knight and Ethan Day
Ever since the zombie apocalypse hit 18 months ago, 19-year-old Chandler Cox has been stuck in his house with his parents, wacky grandparents, and drunken great aunt. Before that, Chandler was an average teenager, crushing on football hunk Zane Addison and stuck working a crappy job at Beefcake Bobs. He never expected his life would change the day he served some burgers to Zane and his friends, just one step in what turned out to be a global pandemic that turned people into zombies due to bad cow meat. But now there finally seems to be light at the end of the tunnel as a vaccine starts working and slowly the infrastructure is returning. And now that Chandler can venture out of the house again, he is determined to seek out Zane, the guy he hasn’t been able to get out of his mind. And although Zane is a zombie, he seems to be interested in Chandler as well. Now that things are slowly returning to normal, can a human and a zombie manage to make things work?
This is such a great story, funny and quirky and full of humor. The tone is light and a bit silly and Chandler narrates with such a fabulous voice, both earnest and bemused at the same time. Knight and Day manage to work in a lot of set up and backstory to the zombie outbreak without weighing things down. There are also some nice moments as Chandler faces coming out to his parents, both as a gay man and also as someone in love with a zombie. But mostly this story is a lot of light fun. I loved Chandler’s crazy family, especially his constantly tipsy cougar of an aunt. I really loved this one and smiled the whole way through.
Surviving Sin City by Ethan Stone and Daniel A. Kaine
Kaleb Pierce’s life turns upside down one night when, while he is out delivering a pizza, the customer’s wife takes a huge bite out of her husband’s neck. From then on, things just keep getting crazier with more attacks and violence, but Kaleb doesn’t really understand what is going on until he meets Cooper Lockwood. Cooper has been preparing for a zombie apocalypse for years; he has a bunker and is prepared for any eventuality. Except, of course, for being stuck in America when the virus hits, unable to get home to England. Cooper and Kaleb agree to stick together at least for a night, and then to try to get Cooper to an airport so he can get home.
But keeping away from the zombies isn’t easy, especially as new super zombies develop, with speed and intelligence that makes them much more dangerous. The men must work together to stay safe, finally learning to trust and depend upon one another. But will the connection between them be broken once Cooper makes it to the airport? And will the men even stay safe long enough to find out?
This story gives us the more thrilling and terrifying side of the zombie tale. These guys are on the run for their lives pretty much from the first page, and these zombies are terrifying and deadly. There is definitely a lot of action here, as well as thrills and gore. We also get a bit of a romantic side too, as Kaleb and Cooper move from hating one another to finding a real partnership. I did wish for a bit more chemistry between them. Although this is technically one of Wilde City’s mainstream stories, there are clear romantic elements and at least an HFN for these guys. But they spend a lot of the story sort of on parallel tracks and at odds with one another, so it was hard to really feel that connection when they ultimately got together. This is especially true because Cooper isn’t very likable for a lot of the story, so it made it even harder to see why Kaleb is so drawn to him. But overall, this was an great story with lots of thrills and chills.
Ghoul’s Gym by TJ Klune and Eric Arvin
Gym bunny Ulysses Hoak and his “lanky looker” boyfriend Jake Howell live in a perfect suburban neighborhood in a house they recently bought while they save for their dream home in Italy. They guys are totally in love, but Jake is dealing with some insecurities about his appearance. Uly is huge and buff and works at a gym full of other enormous muscle-bound men, including his boss, “Stephen Fucking Dorian,” who Jake just knows wants in Uly’s pants. Uly can tell something is off with Jake, but Jake isn’t ready to talk about it.
One day Jake finally can’t take it any more and decides to give in to temptation. He goes to see Dusty, the local supplier of steroids and other body enhancement drugs for the guys at the gym. Within minutes, he can see something is terribly wrong with Dusty and his quartet of muscle-bound “alphabet twinks.” Over at the gym, Uly starts to see something is wrong there as well. People are sick, gray and nauseous. And soon worse — violent and cannibalistic and totally out of their minds with rage and an urge to eat and kill. All Jake wants to do is go to the gym and find Uly. He is sure once they are together everything will be fine. And all Uly wants to do is survive the zombies long enough to escape and find Jake. But as the slaughter and devastation continue, Uly encounters more danger, and Jake descends even further into madness, it may be too late for these guys to make it out alive.
OMG, this story was fabulous. Adrenaline fueled and horrific and terrifying and so perfectly zomblicious. It starts out so lovely, birds singing and green grass all around. And then things slowly take a turn into the dark and creepy, first as Jake sees the sick twinks and then as Uly enounters sick clients and employees at the gym. And then suddenly all hell breaks loose — people are exploding, guys are getting eaten, people are turning feral, and everyone is terrified for their lives. These aren’t your normal slow moving zombies; these guys are horrifying monsters and this story brings on the gore and the terror.
I was so interested to see how this collaboration with Klune and Arvin would go, as they are both fabulous writers but with such very different styles. And here they manage to create something that fits both of them so well. This was my favorite story of the anthology for sure, even though it totally terrified me. I especially loved the alternating POV, so we really get to be inside the head of one of these zombies as he is experiencing his own descent into madness. It was chilling and horrifying and even romantic. I loved this one and am so excited to hear that there is more to come in this series!
Just a reminder, all six authors stopped by the blog last week to talk about their stories, so if you missed any of those posts, be sure to check them out: