Wednesday, March 28, 2012

CSFF Blog Tour: Night of the Living Dead Christian

I don't normally like to get too personal on this blog, especially on a tour week when there's a slim chance that somebody might actually read the thing, but just in case my review of this month's featured book, Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos, is a little frivolous and concentrates on how much fun Matt's writing is, I thought it might be appropriate to share the paragraph that really jumped out and bit me in the neck. And there were plenty more like it, snippets of dialogue that contained real thought-provoking truth. As a writer, moments like these serve to remind me of the power that stories can have - even silly stories about vampires and zombies. As a flawed and arguably monstrous human being, this particular moment was really a little closer to home than it had any right to be!

Anyway, this is Lara, the reformed vampire, relating what she learned from a pastor:
He showed me the fountain, but I'm still drinking from it. There's a well inside of me, but sometimes I want a drink that's faster, easier, and I take what I can get. There's a part of me that's not a vampire anymore, and there's this other part that still wants to be, sometimes. So every day I have to get a little sunshine, because sunlight doesn't kill vampires, it just burns the vampire out and leaves the human stronger. But until all the work is done I'm a vampire with a tan.
I think I need to be less afraid of the sunlight.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Review: Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I did not receive a free copy of this book from the publisher, because Matt Mikalatos' last book, Imaginary Jesus, was so staggeringly awesome there was no way this would escape my wish list. And by virtue of having a birthday earlier this month, I managed to get a copy in time to review it for the tour and not even deprive Matt of his hard-earned royalties. Yay me!

Anyway, the book. Given the fact that Matt Mikalatos is clearly insane an eccentric genius, I opened this book expecting something like a paperback Shaun of The Dead with a little spiritual insight mixed in for good measure. And, apart from the fact that it is less about zombies than it is about a mad scientist (actually, I would have thought that the British would be more likely to use the term eccentric genius, but what do I know?), a spiritually interested werewolf, the worst robot of all time, and our Generic Christian hero, Matt Mikalatos himself, that's almost what it is. There are zombies; they belong to a church that wants to remove the brains of its congregation. One of them is even adopted by story Matt - he's called Robert, and the fact that author Matt has the nerve to just go with the obvious gags like that just make me love this book even more.
Culbetron snickered. "He just said 'at stake' to a vampire. Hee hee hee."
More Christian books should embrace childlike humour. Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child and all that. Also the phrase 'It's clobbering time!' That should be in more Christian books too.

So far, so Shaun of the Dead. But what of the spiritual insight? Well, drawing the parallels between the common stumbling blocks to a truly transformed life and B-movie monsters works so well that it had to be done sooner or later. It may well have been done before, but that doesn't matter because Matt Mikalatos does it so well. I wouldn't be surprised to find that he has a degree in Stealth Theology or something, because he just slips those little nuggets of truth in among the silliness.
Vampires, werewolves, zombies, mummies - they can all be cured. If they want it badly enough.
And that is one of the great things about this book. In amongst the monsters and the silly jokes and all the other mayhem, suddenly something will just jump off the page and you will be face to face with your own dark side. Take a quick glance at the amazon reviews for the book, and you'll see words like 'convicting' come up almost as much as ones like 'hilarious'. The book doesn't pretend that there is an easy cure to any of our monstrosities - as Lara the vampire says, 'It's simple, but it's not easy.'

For me personally, I think this book works because the author is talking my language. He understands my life, my sense of humour, my enjoyment of things geeky, my parental frustration...
the kids were probably doing the afternoon snack ritual, which involves the children begging for snacks, rejecting whatever is offered to them, and then complaining about their day until they finally take the offered snack and are given sufficient energy not to be upset about all of life anymore. My presence mostly just adds an extra step, the part where I yell at them to stop being so cranky and eat something...
And as if knowing that part of my day so intimately wasn't enough, at the end of the story Matt (or, arguably, Krista) has a baby girl whose middle name is Hope...

So, all that being said, the big question is: had the Matt Mikalatos managed to live up to the expectations set by his debut novel?

Well, I was laughing out loud by the end of page two, but on the whole I didn't do that quite as much as I did while reading Imaginary Jesus. What I did do a lot of though, was think. And I had a whole lot of fun while doing it. So, yes, definitely, Night of the Living Dead Christian is every bit as essential a read as Imaginary Jesus is.

But don't take my word for it, go and ask these people (some of whom may have less in common with the author to start with).
Gillian Adams Julie Bihn Red Bissell Thomas Clayton Booher Thomas Fletcher Booher Keanan Brand Beckie Burnham Morgan L. Busse Theresa Dunlap Amber French Tori Greene Nikole Hahn Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Janeen Ippolito Becky Jesse Jason Joyner Carol Keen Leighton Shannon McDermott Rebecca LuElla Miller Nissa Joan Nienhuis John W. Otte Crista Richey Sarah Sawyer Chawna Schroeder Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Fred Warren Shane Werlinger Nicole White Dave Wilson

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Tuesday Tunes: LZ7 & Matt Redman - 27 Million

Yes, I know what day it is, but I got a gold star for blogging in the face of adversity last week, so you can't reasonably expect timely posting this week as well.

Anyway, this week rather than trawling the Tube for some footage of Back to the Planet (next week - possibly even on Tuesday) I'm going to share a little video, which I hope speaks for itself, and then ask you to go and download the song.

There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world today - that's more than at any time in history. If you want to belong to a more civilised society where this kind of thing does not happen, download the song from your preferred digital media stockist and help raise awareness of the size of the problem, and money for the A21 Campaign to help fight it.

I'll even make it easy for you - here are some links: iTunes (UK) Amazon 7 Digital iTunes (US)

If not, I want to know what more constructive use you found for that 99p.