“Pariah” by Bob Fingerman (TOR, 2010)

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We are now slowly passing out of the Age of the Vampire in the world of genre fiction, and are heavily entrenched in the Age of the Zombie, with little end in sight.  Much like the glut of young adult fantasy that exploded after the success of Harry Potter, there is a lot of zombie fiction out there that is barely worth the paper it’s printed on: quick, simple, pointless plots and over the top garish description, with little to add to the world of story or the craft of writing.  Pariah, thankfully, is one of the good ones.

Bob Fingerman is the author of Bottomfeeder and the graphic novels Recess Pieces, Beg the Question and White like She.   In his take on the world of zombies, he employs the stereotypes we’ve all become quite familiar with: a plague has ravaged the world and turned almost everyone into the slow, cumbersome, brain-hungry walking dead; the few that remain must do everything they can to eke out a living and somehow survive.  In Pariah, Fingerman’s canvas is an Upper East Side New York apartment block where the few remaining tenants have barricaded themselves inside.  They ration themselves through their dwindling food supplies, becoming further emaciated; while across the street sits a grocery store; between stands an ocean of zombies hungry for brains.

Fingerman is clearly having fun with his unusual characters: a couple who care little for each other, a younger man who has interests in a female tenant, two men who are “just friends,” a strange old lady who appears and disappears throughout the apartment block like a ghostly apparition, and the strange fellow who makes his home on the roof and spends his days pelting the zombies below with rocks, taking them out slowly, one by one.  Fingerman flitters from one viewpoint to another, as the tenants scrape by, becoming more and more impatient and aggravated with their surroundings and fellow tenants.  Then one day they see a young girl walking through the sea of zombies, alive and well, and being completely ignored by those lusting for cranial matter.  Pariah is a fresh and different zombie novel you just might want to check out.

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Originally written on September 16 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

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