Wow! I don't think I could start this review any other way...just...WOW! This book is amazing, horrifying, terrifying, and oddly realistic (if you assume the zombie apocalypse is a real thing).
As most people know, George Romero was a genius and a visionary. What you may not know is that Daniel Kraus is, as well. Despite the fact that the two men only met once, long before this collaboration became a reality, it was written as a true meeting of the minds between the two. Romero left a partially completed manuscript; Kraus was asked to finish it. Instead of just using what he'd been given and finishing it however he wanted, Kraus spent a lot of time re-watching and reading everything by Romero he could track down. As new resources came to light, changes were made to the storyline. While adding his own artistic touches, Kraus went as far as possible in making sure that Romero's original vision for the book still shone through. I can't say enough positive things about the integrity with which Kraus tackled finishing this book, or about the truly impressive final product.
Now, a bit about the actual book: Yes, it's pretty much what you'd expect from a Romero zombie novel. There are lots of zombies, and lots of gory, terrible things happen. However, there's also plenty of character development along the way, as people cope with and adapt to the apocalypse. The story is told from multiple perspectives, with various different storylines that sometimes intersected, and sometimes went their own way. I enjoyed some characters more than others, but feel that everyone could find one (or more) to connect with as you read. Despite the fact that the plot is pretty much all action, all the time, there's time to get to know the major players in the story, and come to appreciate their past experiences, personalities, and reactions to what is happening around them.
The Living Dead is so much more than a typical zombie horror novel. It's also a commentary on the human condition, and speaks to actual issues that we're facing today. Place yourself in the shoes of any character, and try to honestly evaluate what you'd do in that situation. Hopefully we can all walk away from this book with a desire to be better people.
Each individual storyline is compelling on its own, and is made even more so by its integration into overall plot. All the details are right, and the things that happen seem realistic given the situation. There's a lot going on here, and I won't go into detail to avoid spoilers.
Suffice it to say that this book is truly a work of genius. I highly recommend it to any fans of horror, Romero, post-apocalyptic fiction, and anyone interested in a fresh perspective on human nature.
Five out of five chunks of sharp cheddar!