Dead Cells

Posted: 10/02/2011 in Books
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Dead Cells by Adam Millard

I’ve seen enough Rob Schneider and Will Arnett movies to know that prison isn’t fun. But you know what would suck even more than being stuck in prison? Being stuck in prison with zombies! Unfortunately for the characters of Dead Cells, that’s exactly where they find themselves.

THE GOOD: Dead Cells is a lot of fun. It gets moving right away and doesn’t take its foot off the gas petal, which I always find appealing in a zombie novel. It’s also pretty well-written and descriptive. As I was reading I felt like I was watching the movie in my head. It plays out like an action movie (think Con Air with zombies) and is pretty over-the-top, but never to the point where Millard loses the reader. It’s all just a really fun ride.

THE BAD: In the world of Dead Cells, stereotypes abound. You’ve got your obligatory, prisonor-with-a heart-of-gold hero. He’s just weeks from release and eager to get back to his loving wife and daughter. His best prison buddy is a giant Native American fella (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest‘s Chief with more personality). Throw in your standard raping, parent-murdering, shiv-stabbing inmate baddies and mix in an evil prison warden (really, is there any other kind?) * and his goonish prison guards; as cruel as the prisoners they oversee. Oh, and a hot nurse! It’s really like a prison description that you might get from “Prison Mike” from The Office (minus the Dementors).

Now I list this with “the bad” but it really doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story. In fact, I don’t think I’d have it any other way. If you’re looking for an accurate depiction of American British prisons, hit the non-fiction section.

THE UGLIES: The zombie virus in Dead Cells enters the prison through one sick inmate. He throws up on some dudes, bites a guard, and we’re off to the races. Standard zombie infection rules apply: contact with body fluids, bites, scratches, etc will get ya. The zombies are slow for the most part, but seem to be able to move quickly when motivated. In a few chapters Millard puts us in the mind of a zombie, revealing that they are driven by a vague hunger for human flesh and implying that some zombies may be more self-aware than others. They also appear to have varying levels of coordination as one takes to attacking with a weapon.

THE VERDICT: While Dead Cells isn’t going to get any points for originality, it more than makes up for it in fun. I finished the book in two nights and enjoyed every second of it. It’s available for the Kindle on Amazon for $0.99. Definitely a bargain at that price. Go pick it up! 12 out of 14 stars.

*I’m wrong. See James Cromwell in The Green Mile.


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