Hungry Hearts looked and sounded like a fun zombie read – I love zombies, *as if you didn’t know* 😉
Looking at the cover I thought this would be about Rick and Sally, their relationship and how her being a zombie would change all that. In a way it was, but not in they way I imagined it. Plus there was the additional plot line with the serial killer, which didn’t add anything to the story really, other than as filler.
Plainly speaking, the writing is good but the pace is a little too slow, the book a bit too long, and there’s a plot too many.
There are two main plot lines which run alongside each other. One is Rick and the other is Daryl, the serial killer.
Rick is a policeman, who finds his wife murdered in their home, not by zombies but by human hands. Unfortunately, she returns as a zombie. Not being able to deal with her death and zombieness, Rick decides to try and find a cure.
Rick sedates her with morphine so she wouldn’t bite, he discovers that by injecting the drug through her eye seems to work, and bandages her up so to others she just looks injured rather than a zombie. I could understood this reaction and could get on board with it as Rick was filled with grief. However, the author takes the reader down a route which I really didn’t like. There were little hints that it was coming and I kept thinking please don’t go down that route. Unfortunately the author did.
Rick decides to have sex with his wife! Sex with his wife who’s decaying, bloated and dead. Why the author had to go down this path I don’t know but it was absolutely disgusting and made me see Rick in a completely different light. Up until that point I had been sympathetic to his plight and understood his actions, but after that I just couldn’t see him any other way than a complete sicko! Honestly, what normal man, even in grief would have sex with a dead person, and not just dead, but decaying and heaving with maggots?? *shudders*
The reason for the zombie outbreak is a little vague. Throughout the story people believe it’s in the bite, but it seems that with some people they come back from dying without a bite, old corpses in graveyards rise up, Sally who was murdered by a human comes back as a zombie. There are suggestions the outbreak was due to human involvement, which is why Rick decides to go and look for the ‘scientists’ who may be able to cure his wife, but no real explanation was given.
Daryl is on the cusp of becoming a serial killer. He’s been stalking Sally and targets her as his first victim. We don’t get to see him in action with Sally, but he does give us glimpses to his actions when he uses his memories to turn himself on. This character is vile and completely evil. His thoughts and actions are repulsive. Even when it’s revealed that he was a victim of incest with his mother and bullying I felt no sympathy towards him whatsoever.
The ending was a little ambiguous too – the last paragraph (not the epilogue) we see the world through Sally’s eyes as a zombie, as well as her ‘thoughts’ and it ends on a note that suggests she is aware, but it doesn’t go into any detail and just ends, which was unsatisfying.
I really believe the story of Rick, his zombie wife, Sally, and their journey together could have been enough to keep me interested if the author had fleshed it out a bit, without having to include the serial killer aspect *or the vomit inducing sex scene*. It was just too much and I felt it was unnecessary.
Hungry Hearts definitely sits within the ‘horror’ genre as it is pretty horrific. There are scenes which, if you are not used to reading this kind of novel, maybe shocking to you, so you have been warned! For me there were moments which I really enjoyed and others that I really didn’t – would I recommend it? Only to diehard horror fans I think.
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Hungry Hearts by Gary McMahon
Abaddon Books (Nov 2009)
Paperback: 311 pages