It is the ultimate expression of George Romero’s vision, carefully curated, expanded andultimately—fulfilled by Daniel Kraus. One of the most fascinating parts of the novel is Kraus’ afterword, explaining how The Living Dead came together and the decisions he made in writing it; it is an ode to collaboration that will be of interest to more than just publishing geeks. If anything, Kraus undersells his own contributions: Romero’s work, although visionary, is often self-contradictory and incomplete. Kraus pulls together fragments across media formats—and time—unites them, and extends them into a single, holistic narrative. Ultimately—to skip to the end—The Living Dead will someday rest comfortably alongside other shelf-breaking epics. It deserves mention alongside The Passage, Swan Song and—dare I say it—The Stand, as examples of the sweeping, apocalyptic saga ... The Living Dead, in many ways, the perfect first zombie book: the zombie thesis. It presents the notion of the living dead like it is a new idea, explores the fundamentals from a variety of (immensely entertaining) perspectives, and lays the groundwork for future, more incisive, uses of the trope. It so happens that many of those future uses have already occurred over the past fifty years, but that doesn’t mean The Living Dead can’t—or won’t—still serve as the formative text for future zombie readers. It is, as it is intended to be, the perfect encapsulation of, and companion to, Romero’s classic films, and will ultimately be, just as they are, timeless.
... an epic novel...that may prove to be the definitive account of the zombie apocalypse ... Romero’s heirs invited Daniel Kraus, novelist and lifelong Romero fan, to complete the project. That was a spectacularly good decision. While it is impossible to know, at all points, which writer wrote which passages, it’s clear that Kraus’s contribution was enormous, and that his own narrative decisions were made in the service of Romero’s vision ... every bit the epic Romero intended ... Despite its often grotesque violence, The Living Dead is, in the end, about something unexpected: the quality of mercy ... The Living Dead expands, clarifies and concludes a tale more than 50 years in the telling, and does so with wit, style and a deep sense of commitment to this frequently unsettling material.
The Living Dead...should satisfy horror fans and aficionados of the movies ... There is plenty of blood and viscera to go around. However, Romero and Kraus have produced a very literary work, which is more about the living than the living dead ... the authors take the time to stop and smell the roses, as folks do what folks will do, which is to form relationships of all sorts even in the worst of times. But not even the most bloodthirsty reader will be disappointed as long as one does not anticipate an idyllic denouement ... Regardless of the kinds of books that usually catch your eye, you should set aside a few days to read this expansive, nightmarish work to see how the job of writing an epic novel in any genre is exquisitely done.
Written in relatively short chapters, it is gripping from the start ... The results are gruesome and effective. For those who like their horror gory, there’s enough rending, gnashing, tearing and gobbling to keep you happy ... a remarkable distillation of the zombie genre which covers pretty much everything that a reader would want in a zombie novel. It is both chilling and effective. Can you tell who wrote what in this joint project? No, and that’s what impresses (although it seems clear in the Afterword that much of the graft was Daniel’s.) I’m fairly sure that the often lyrical nature of the prose is perhaps Kraus’s work. Generally, it works very well and there’s a level of detail that makes this feel like the authors know their stuff ... On the negative side of things, you may struggle to suspend disbelief at how all these disparate characters cross paths, although this is something that often happens in such novels ... Thankfully, such transgressions are few. The ending may please some readers and infuriate others ... There’s a weight and a depth to this that shows both respect for the material for Romero and for the genre. The authors know what readers want—and deliver. Pleasingly impressive.
Some might find these later scenes of humans trying to figure out how to live with zombies unsatisfying, but most will be thrilled by the plentiful early fright scenes and impressed by how well the book hangs together. The authors marshal a vast cast here and, despite Kraus completing Romero’s unfinished work, the book always feels consistent and the characters’ journeys are convincing. It’s not a perfect work...but Romero’s final foray into zombie territory is easily his best work in decades. Zombie fans should be thrilled.
... long-winded ... Throughout, the zombie threat is granted its own, second-person perspective ... In this innovation alone Romero paints a fresher picture of the zombie apocalypse, following the zombie’s perspective 15 years into the future to examine the lifespan and evolution of the creatures. Otherwise, this doorstopper reads like an extended cut of Romero’s horror films. This belabored amalgamation of zombie tropes is epic but familiar.
... harrowing survival stories are marked by cinematic spectacles...but Kraus injects a dramatic dose of human pathos into the mix as characters bond, fight for survival, and frequently die so that others may live. By the time these disparate characters converge in the last act after a significant time jump, readers will know them so well that each loss takes on more emotional weight. Less soapy than The Walking Dead and less inventive than Max Brooks’ World War Z, it’s still a spectacular horror epic laden with Romero’s signature shocks and censures of societal ills. A blockbuster portrayal of the zombie apocalypse and a fitting tribute to the genre’s imaginative progenitor.