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I Belong

Review: Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

Title: Working Stiff

Author: Rachel Caine

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Revivalist (Book 1)

Publication Date: August 2, 2011

Format: Paperback, 306 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451464133 (Roc/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451464132 (Roc/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Kiwi


Bryn Davis was killed on the job after discovering her bosses were selling a drug designed to resurrect the dead. Now, revived by that same drug, she becomes an undead soldier in a corporate war to take down the very pharmaceutical company responsible for her new condition…

Quick & Dirty: Zombies that aren’t only about the brains…

Opening SentenceBryn’s first embalming instructor had told her, straight up, that two kinds of people entered the death business: freaks and true believers.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

This is not your everyday zombie novel. Zombie novels, by traditional definition, don’t usually include trying to save a zombie, rather everyone is trying their hardest to kill all of them and avoid becoming one themselves. And there is usually a disease or mutation or some other way that zombie-ism is communicable. And, lets not forget the whole appetite for brains, or flesh or whatever… In Rachel Caine’s Revivalist series, however, tradition has been given the metaphorical middle finger salute.

I will tackle the basics….modern day zombies in these novels do not eat brains. They do not wander around aimlessly, arms in front and you can’t catch their condition. In fact, these guys and gals are just like you and me. Creepily so. In fact, you could be dating one right now and you might not even notice. Eek! And if they miss a few doses of their “special medication”, eek turns into Ewwwww!! But I digress…

Bryn Davis is an Iraqi war veteran who has just taken a job as a funeral director at a local mortuary. She, at first is excited (though who could be excited about that job?) and pleased with the position. A shame that it pretty much only lasts 12 hours. This poor girl had to have the crappiest first day on the job of anyone I have read about or even known. Not too often you hear about a friend having a girl commit suicide in the bathroom, the place exploding and, oh yeah, dying on the first day.

But, alas poor Bryn suffers greatly at the hands of her new employer when she stumbles upon his basement side business. It appears the dastardly Mr. Fairview has been able to get his hands on some of the drug that returns one’s life signs and he is selling it to people desperate to hold on to their loved ones. When he finds Bryn has been snooping around he has her killed.

After the attack, Bryn wakes up a whole new person. Well, not so much a whole new person, more of the same person with a whole new set of rules, and friends, and medical necessities. Bryn is now a zombie….well a revived human anyway. And in order to keep the supply of her new (quoting the book here) “permanent portable life support” she has to start yet another new job. This time, the makers of the wonder drug that brings people back from the dead want to know how Bryn’s ex-employer found out about the drug, and exactly who was selling it to him.

So, in a rather short time, Bryn has acquired a new life, a new business, new friends and co-workers, oh and this neat superhuman healing ability. And all of these things take her on one heck of a journey fraught with danger and despair. And doesn’t that sound like I just ripped it off the cover of spy novel? Danger, that reaches out and touches even the members of her family, I’m afraid. And I’m also afraid I’ll have to tell you that not everything is tied up with a cute little bow at the end.

This storyline…conceptually, I think it’s fascinating. The idea that a drug for cancer could end up bringing back people from the dead is awesome. Imagine if it had existed when Kennedy was shot, or MLK or John Lennon. What would the world look like today? Anyway, I still gotta give you a big *shudder* at the love story bit. Ick. Cause, I mean, Bryn is technically dead. Nothing in her is going on its own, not her heart, lungs, nothing. But barring the necrophilia, Bryn’s words not mine, a good story, a great idea, and so I liked it. I did. You should try it out. I’ve never read any of her other books, but you should definitely give this one a shot.

Notable Scene:

After a few seconds, he indicated for her to wait, and he glided a few more steps ahead, checking the exposed point where the hallway emptied into the next room.

Gunfire shattered the glassy silence. Fideli hit the floor, return-firing from a prone position, and Bryn decked it, too, to avoid any ricochets. It was over in a couple of seconds. Her ears were still ringing from the hammer blows of the shots, but she heard running feet somewhere beyond.

Fideli stayed in firing position, but he keyed a throat mike and said, “He’s on the move, heading for the north fence—“ He coughed, and rolled over on his back. “And I took one,” he added. “Call nine-one-one, Bryn.”

She saw a dark stain of blood on the filthy floor, and for a second she couldn’t react at all—and then it all snapped together, and she flung herself across to him and pulled his jacket back, then ripped open his shirt.

“Be gentle,” he said. “Got to”—a pause for an ominously wet cough—“explain to Kylie later—“

“Shut up.”

Revivalist Series:

1. Working Stiff

2. Two Weeks’ Notice

3. Terminated (August 2013)

FTC Advisory: Roc/Penguin graciously provided me with a copy of Working Stiff. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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