Zombies, vampires & werewolves are not my usual reading fare (although if you check out the plethora of these books on Amazon cyberspace shelves & real-time library shelves, lots of other folks are really into this genre!) HOWEVER, I saw this new book posted on author John Scalzi’s “Whatever” blog (I enjoyed his “Old Man’s War” – a unique read, not quite Terry Pratchett but well done fun. His blog is over-the-top-amazing!) Clicking over to Amazon reviews with endorsing blurbs “written like C.S. Lewis,” as an avid C.S. Lewis groupie I decided to give the “Night of the Living Dead Christian” a try. In seconds my Kindle hummed with the new book. After finishing it, HOWEVER, methinks the blurbs should read: ‘written like C.S. Lewis ON CRACK.’
Evangelically potent, but still…the author obviously had lollipops laced with SOMETHING radical in his childhood (or maybe, at Church??)
Matt Mikalatos (the author) doubles as the narrator and almost-main-character while Luther Martin, the werewolf (trying-to-transform-his-werewolf-ness) takes over a few chapters & is definitely the Main Character. Throw in a mad scientist (Dr. Culbetron), his robot side-kick (Hibbs 3000), a vampire neighbor (Lara), and a horde of churched Zombies (undead & dead) … add Borut, a ruthless werewolf hunter out to kill the werewolf Main Character, and the plot definitely thickens with hilarity, the Absurd layered in levels of Allegory, and bits of seriously Serious Seriousness by the end.
You have to plod through quite a few ruffled feathers (& monsterish clashes) to get to the good bits at the end. Keep plodding. The Allegories (undead & dead Zombies at church dragging about their heavy Study Bible tomes, unquestioningly swallowing spoon fed faith without letting it near their hearts) are not exactly subtle. The Lutherans get an especially bad rap (Luther Martin blames his father, a Lutheran pastor, for his lack of faith; but that’s just the beginning of the anti-Lutheran diatribes.) PERTURBED, I put the book down a few days, since I worked with many devout Lutherans in Tanzania (my boss George Mkanza, his wife Sarah – a Lutheran pastor, our Board of Trustees Chairperson, Helen Kijo-Bisimba, along with probably half of our 600+ staff!) AND I am a huge groupie of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a rather devout Lutheran and CHRISTIAN (if anyone doesn’t think he’s on the other side rejoicing in the Heavenlies: PHOOEY ON YOU-EY!!)
But, I kept going (keeping in mind these views are held by the WEREWOLF, who may end up doing some changing…) Lutherans are not the only ones zapped in this book – best to read it with an open mind (hey, we could all use a little transformation, not just werewolves & vampires!)
Werewolf Luther wants to be transformed to get his wife & daughter who have left him back, so Matt & his odd assortment of new monster-ish buddies try to help him find Jesus – (attempts to scientifically ‘clone’ Jesus from a Catholic communion wafer are hilariously unsuccessful, but at least Dr. Culbertron holds the Host ‘reverently’… & there’s a great part where all the Gospel translations are programmed into a robot Jesus & even Matt’s Evangelical ‘I-know-the-answer-to-that-one’ is turned upside down!)
It all comes together in the last few page-turner chapters that include a few tear-leaks (the water kind) as Luther Martin dramatically finds the real Jesus (& transformation) with the help of his neighbor-now-friend Matt in a redemption scene that is rather C.S. Lewish-ish. (Ruffled feathers are definitely unruffled by the end…)
Creatively challenging, this book made me laugh (more than once); it made me mad (more than once); it made me think (more than once); it made me cry (more than once)…& it will make me pray (more than once) for more ‘un-dead’ Christians (of all varieties) to be the LOVE-FILLED Hands & Feet of Jesus to the world’s ‘Werewolves’ around us.
Keep at those laced-UP radical lollipops, Matt Mikalatos (!)
ding-dong … must dash to Trick-or-Treat door duty – lollipops anyone?
grace, peace & Happy Halloween!
Virginia : )
Wow. This review brought many smiles to my face. You are really funny. And I think “C.S. Lewis on CRACK” will probably go in my personal list of endorsements for the future.
Just to make sure it’s clear, I love Lutherans. 🙂 I needed someone with good theology so I could point out that good theology is not enough to be good Christians, and I thought Lutherans would do just fine as exemplars of people with generally excellent theology.
Also… just say no to drugs. 🙂
Thanks, Virginia, for the great review. It was a lot of fun and I appreciate you taking the time!
wow – Thanx for your comment, Matt (!) and many thanks (i think) for challenging us out of our comfort zones (belief zones inclusive…) I actually sent an email last week mentioning “zombies” & “werewolves” – totally radical for this stick-to-Tolkien fantasy reader (oh, & Elizabeth Moon’s Paks.. : ) Now, however, i downloaded your 1st book & look forward to new escapades of you & your buddies (what’s happenin’ with Lara?)
Totally ‘got’ the Lutheran thing (yes, tears leaked away my ruffled feathers!) & DO SO appreciate you shaking us up. At the Pearly Gates methinks we won’t be asked how well we BELIEVED (re: this or that theology, altho important!), but how well we put our belief into action, specifically in the Love-of-Jesus-Christ-&-Love for-others-dept.
Re: Radical Lollipops – Tuti-Fruiti (flavor), Holy Spirit (Brand) & Made in Heaven
grace, peace & Radical Candy
Virginia : )
p.s. your book is, like, totally AWESOME!
I actually suggested to the publisher that I do a series of novellas that we could release quarterly with “further adventures” of some of the side characters in NLDC. I had three of them loosely plotted out, one for Robert the half-zombie, one for Lara and one for Frank Martin (Luther’s dad). I don’t think we’re going to do them, but here’s what I suggested for Lara:
Lara Libatique, the newest alto in the struggling church choir Sonshine Singers, has a secret. She’s a vampire. Keeping a secret like that – being (sort of) dead – isn’t easy, which is why she recently came to a Big Box Mega Church in the first place. But now the head pastor is preaching on “Monsters In Our Midst” and the congregation is out with pitchforks and torches. Plus, Lara is starting to suspect that the pastor himself is not all he seems, despite the long list of accolades, accomplishments and his slavishly devoted fans. To top it all off, Lara is getting “thirsty” and that long-necked tenor is starting to look like a great big juice box… even worse, the Easter Cantata is only three weeks away, and Lara has been “promoted” to soprano. Sounds like a disaster, one way or another, a disaster that Lara is determined to avoid, resist and out-sing. The stakes are high, and the notes are higher, but for the first time in years Lara feels like she has a challenge she can really sink her teeth into.
wooo woooo! totally LIKE Lara – a singing vampire! : ) PLS do this novella – maybe for Asimov’s or Analog? My brother & I really like Kristine Kathryn Rusch & always procure the ones she’s in.. seems like there’s usually a vampire or two in the other stories & sometimes some seriously serious WEIRD stuff (maybe not C.S.Lewis on crack!), but hey, a singing soprano vampire might just fit in.
just started your Imaginary Jesus book over teabreak today – methinks this is going to be even more fun than the Living Dead Christian! : )
Hmmm. That’s a thought. I was thinking of just writing it as an ebook if people were interested then they could download it for a buck. I wonder if there’s a magazine out there that might be interested, though. That’s worth looking into.
I’m glad you’re enjoying IJ. It’s a little more lollipop-influenced than NLDC believe it or not. 🙂
YES – ebook is GREAT idea, too. K. Kathryn Rusch does those (the Business Rusch on her website you might find of interest – http://www.kristinekathrynrusch.com/ ) We got hooked on her “Diving the Wreck” series in Analog (or Asimov’s can’t remember which one) & pre-ordered the 2nd book … and are waiting eagerly for the next installment. Sneaky Sci-Fi marketing tactics!
Also – those heavy Sci-Fi tomes of collected stories with folks like Mike Resnick as editors… done yearly (but we don’t want to wait that long to read more about Lara! : ) Also, did you know David Weber is a lay Methodist-preacher? (i read ALL his Honor Harrington books while recuperating from surgery a few yrs ago.. & i think a vampire made a guest appearance in one of his other series or short stories.. in a + way… like he/they saved the marines & the earth as we know it.)
Can’t wait to read more of IJ – (altho am trying to finish a Malaria book to blog SOON, but read your book instead of that one over tea break today! What would IJ say?? : )
Thanx, again, Matt for these books wrapped so creatively with Holy Hilarity, yet packing such a Powerful Message (!) Keep at those laced UP Lollipops!