Dec 22, 2010: Know this: I don’t like zombies. At all. They’re yucky and creepy and I’m very glad they only live in the land of make-believe. shudder
The only reason I started reading Frankie & Formaldehyde is because I’ve enjoyed M. Jones’ other works, particularly 314 Crescent Manor. I’m glad I pushed past my zombie bigotry for this novel. It’s a fantastic, fun, and philosophical read.
Former retiree Frankie works 80 hours per week at the Happy Restful Afterlife Home. Why afterlife? Because Osmosis Industries, Inc. is peddling the Osmosis 37 enzyme, which grants life everlasting to the deceased who can afford the treatment. The trouble is that the undead devolve into mindless, rotting, flesh-eating animals. Grief and Osmosis’ marketing machine have blinded much of the populace to this fact. Consequently, Osmosis has built tens of "afterlife homes" to keep their dead customers from consuming their living ones. Jones has thought out the ramifications of this horrific business model and weaves them through the novel.
Frankie toils to support her husband George, who’d been incapacitated by a stroke. George died in his sleep . . . and woke up. He’s a "rogue," albeit a mysteriously benign one. Although it’s a capital offense to harbor rogue undead, George is still Frankie’s husband. There’s a bit of his soul in his pasty-skinned corpse. Frankie can’t bring herself to turn George over to Osmosis, or worse, one of the afterlife homes. So she attempts to maintain the status quo until the other shoe drops, and boy does it ever!
The grim setting of Frankie & Formaldehyde is lightened by black comedy and gallows humor. How often do you see a zombie shop for Hawaiian shirts and Bermuda shorts? I never thought I’d root for a zombie, especially one with such tragic fashion sense.
I recommend Frankie & Formaldehyde to zombie lovers and haters alike. The romance aspect is almost platonic, so you don’t have to worry about mental images of the living getting it on with the dead. It’s about life-long relationships, loyalty, and the natural order of things with a healthy dose of wit and social commentary. The novel is kind of a philosophical "Shaun of the Dead," as evidenced by these quotes.
"A man’s got to choose how he lives. . . . He shouldn’t have to choose how he dies."
"Live, die, something else lives. The very soil humanity walks upon is built up from death. Digging into a flowerbed means digging into bones."
"The Happy Restful. Where all your screams are joyous."
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