The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery by Michele W. Miller Review

Book review: The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery

Audiobooks also available here (UK) and at the presence here (US).

The humor is subtly satirical, the horror starkly brutal, and the writing impresses. If we’re to judge a book by its cover, the novel’s title plays with the concept of Twelve Step recovery and the negative associations of the number thirteen. That’s a great start.

There are any number of rules to writing.

Michele W. Miller smashes two of them brilliantly in the opening chapters of her novel, The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery. For a start, Pixar’s fourth rule of their 22 is as follows:

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
Miller opens her novel at a New York lottery winners’ press conference. Although not quite in the middle of things – as Homer would advise – the norm here is already not the everyday. A syndicate of tax auditors winning the lottery is exceptional.
Another rule is to make your characters memorable. Miller introduces a number of characters in a wonderfully original manner: Through the use of mnemonics employed by another character so that he remembers the winners’ names. Jim is slim, so he’s Slim Jim, and so forth. Great stuff, we’re thinking. Miller is doing our work for us.
Set-up complete, Miller kills them off like they’re nameless, expendable stormtroopers, as a zombie apocalypse rains hell on the press conference. The realism of the events – and the surrealism of the zombie attack – are both terrifically handled.
Not-entirely-likable social observations before the attack – made by the lottery’s public representative – are given greater weight with the ways in which some of the victims meet their ends.
I highly recommend the audiobook. It’s the first full novel I’ve given a go (other than books that pre-date the digital age). I feared I wouldn’t be able to devote my attention to it, but I am surprised at how easy it is to follow. It is more than ably narrated by Gabrielle deCuir.
Super stuff. Buy the book on Amazon here.

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