Those Poor, Poor Bastards by Tim Marquitz and JM Martin and Kenny Soward

I'm not a big Weird Western reader. I'm not a big zombie reader. But Those Poor Poor Bastards, the first book in the Dead West series by Tim Marquitz, J. M. Martin, and Kenny Soward, is better than just another Weird Western or just another zombie book. The writing is very visceral, raw in a style similar to Chuck Wendig, with some gooey depictions of bodies being torn apart and decaying in a very fluid way. It is at times high impact, so if you are somewhat squeamish at the thought of a body being emptied of all its fluids, you might want to check out the sample first. If not, get on-board and have some fun.

There is action aplenty, there is furious gunplay, there are characters knee-deep in the blood and guts of their eviscerated friends - this is a high octane story. What makes this story stand out among the rest is the drama between the human characters - there are a bunch of survivors holed up a dilapidated and very fragile house, and they hate each other. They hate each other more than they want to survive this zombie outbreak. So while they have to protect themselves from the threat of the undead, they have to be even more watchful for sabotage within their ranks.

The lead character, Nina, is fantastic. She is a survivor, she is brave, she is loyal, and she is quick to lend her services to those who need help. She acts like she is the shoot first ask questions later type of person, but she always holds back from pulling the trigger, willing to give people the chance to redeem themselves right up until the end. The scenes between her and Jasmine are borderline wish-fulfilment, but they have context, they make sense, they are not gratuitous, and they make you feel stuff. The other characters get a fair representation, have their own quirks, strengths and weaknesses, but I think this story was a little too short to fully flesh these people out. And there is the whole zombie outbreak thing so you never know when one of them will bite it. Marquitz, Martin and Soward have said that they are planning for five more similar size novels, so hopefully we get to see some more background on the characters.

I really enjoyed Those Poor, Poor Bastards. Marquitz, Martin and Soward have put something together that I think really harmonizes and enhances each of their unique qualities. The problem is - how long do I have to wait before I get my next fill of Dead West?!

9/10 High-impact and not for the squeamish.

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