What with the success of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, it became a virtual certainty that both publishers and writers would try to tap into the idea of taking a classic and adding a supernatural flair in the hopes of emulating his accomplishment. And attempt they did, with novels such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, Robin Hood and Friar Tuck:Zombie Killers, and just this past Fall, The War of the Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies by Eric S. Brown.
Being a complete Sci-fi junkie, it took about five seconds of rationalizing before I ran to the counter with my copy of this new take on H.G. Wells classic. Later, after a sober second thought regarding my purchase, I decided to look into the author’s (No, not Wells, the other guy!) previous works just to see if it was going to be worth it. Long story short, a quick search on the Kindle came up with Bigfoot War by the aforementioned Mr. Brown. At the low-cost off $4.99, my choice was made.
Jeff Taylor is back in the town of Babble Creek, North Carolina, roughly twenty years after the death of his father and brother at the hands of…oh, c’mon now, is that really a mystery? He’s back, and looking to settle the score with the huge man/ape that ate his family. Jeff enlists his army buddy Tom (now a disgruntled football coach at the local highschool) and they set out to extract some revenge. Tom is having a hard time believing his buddy’s story, right up until the moment a Bigfoot reaches out of the woods and takes his head off. Jeff and a couple of local sheriff’s deputies manage to finish off the Bigfoot and the local authorities take the body into town for autopsy and quick disposal. Wouldn’t want to scare the locals after all.
However, it wouldn’t be a war if there was only the one Bigfoot, and sure enough, this particular Bigfoot was not alone. By the end of the day, Babble Creek and its citizens would be on the receiving end of a bloody rampage by a tribe of Big(feet?). Pretty straightforward plot.
Clocking in at 128 pages, Bigfoot War seems more like a long novella than a full length novel. It also feels somewhat amateurish, like that novel you’ve been writing in your spare time on the weekend, only to be self published and shopped around at whatever small bookstore that will let you set up a table. Bigfoot War has some continuity and spelling errors, nothing too glaring, but when a character is referred to as Anna one moment and then mistaken for Rachael the next, well, that’s something a competent editor should catch. In another scene, the author means to write “vicious” but ends up with “viscous” which turns a scene of horrific violence into something comical.
(Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!)
The author also can’t seem to decide who the protagonist is going to be. The novel initially revolves around Jeff Taylor and his righteous vendetta, but within twenty pages his body is in several pieces and the story has moved on to various other characters. Each receives a few pages of background, and just when you’re beginning to root for them, oops, they’re dead. No character is safe in this novel, and while that can keep the reader on edge rather than letting them become complacent in their assumptions and is certainly a refreshing change, after a while it gets tiresome. Why take the time to invest in a character when they’re only going to be gone in a few pages?
All this aside, Bigfoot War was a fun way to spend a few hours, literary masturbation of sorts for monster junkies. Brown knows how to write, and this novel feels like a first draft of something that can be improved on with a little editing and perhaps a bit of practice. Eric S. Brown has been on the Zombie scene for a while now and has certainly been a prolific writer. Although Bigfoot War isn’t a horribly good book, it certainly has its moments, and is appealing enough to make me want to try again. Maybe World War of the Dead: A Zombie Novel? War of the Worlds plus Blood, Guts and Zombies? Most definitely!