First, a confession. I’m not a fan of zombie fiction. Zombie romance positively creeps me out. Admittedly, I’m from the George Romero shuffling-zombie generation, and that might account for my anti-zombie stance.
And yet, a book I’m reading now puts me on the floor at least once every chapter (more like every page). Yes, you heard it here. Apocalypse Cow is a brilliant, funny, ridiculous novel about zombie cows on a rampage against humankind all over…Scotland (where else?). An experiment with a new biological weapon goes horribly wrong when tested on cows, so the government stages a mass slaughter. Well, except for the one infected Bossy who wandered out of the pasture and spreads the love among her species. Before long, unsuspecting citizens are beset upon by hordes of rampaging cows determined to make up for every cow-tipping, steak-grilling, slaughterhouse-working human who ever did a cow wrong.
Which is a lead-in for me to talk about humor. I write a lot of humor into my novels. My characters almost always know how to make fun of themselves, or at the very least recognize when they’ve gotten themselves into an utterly ridiculous situation, which seems to happen with alarming frequency. (Alarming for them; I kind of enjoy their predicaments.)
But humor is a subjective thing. I snicker every time the hero of Apocalypse Cow, a geeky teen named Geldof (named after the politically active lead singer of the late, great ’80s band The Boomtown Rats) gets called “Gandalf” by the bullies in his school. And I’m amused by the fact that he desperately wants to eat beef but his aging-hippie mom has forced veganism on him. The humor hits a home run for me because I’m a geek who adored Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats and have been known to say “You Shall Not Pass” to my co-workers in a deep and imposing Sir Ian McKellen tone. A hundred other people might read this book with a “meh” or a “huh?” But it’s the funniest thing I’ve read in ages.
Humor is hard to write. It’s hard to get right. There’s a fine line between snark and such smartassitude that your character becomes unlikeable. There’s a fine line between over-the-top funny and just-plain-silly. There’s a fine line between self-deprecating humor and wallowing in self-pity or whining.
So not everyone will love Apocalypse Cow as much as I do. The humor is dry as Scottish Highland dust and subtle as a flying mallet, but if you’re a fan of one of my favorite urban fantasy authors, Simon R. Green, you might want to give it a try. It might just make you laugh. (Note: I am reading an ARC of Apocalypse Cow; it will be released on May 21 by St. Martin’s Griffin.)
Do you like humor in your paranormal reads? I still laugh aloud when I think about Harry Dresden riding down Michigan Avenue on the back of a reanimated dinosaur skeleton, or fighting off the hedge monsters in a suburban Walmart. What’s made you laugh recently?