The late writer and director of Night of the Living Dead (1968) left behind an in-progress novel that unravels the beginnings of the zombie plague and its far-reaching consequences. Kraus, a lifelong Romero fan and co-author of screenplays such as The Shape of Water, completed the epic.
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.