We all need a reason to laugh these days. And if you’re on one particular side of the political spectrum with regards to our current president, then I have the perfect book recommendation for you. Zombie-In-Chief: Eater of the Free World by Scott Kenemore is a hilarious alternate take on the latest election, with so much in-your-face political satire on practically every page that it will have you constantly howling. Kenemore has already proven his prowess with comedy to this reader with his previous novels–Zombie, Ohio, Zombie, Illinois, and Zombie, Indiana–to me, this latest one is nothing short of genius.
Taking things back a little bit in time, Zombie-In-Chief centers around a certain unlikely candidate for the presidency just days before he is to accept his party’s nomination. But this billionaire business mogul/reality TV star, named only as “the Tycoon,” is hiding a secret from the American people–he’s actually a zombie! Two journalists, one from a reputable news source and one from a “fake news” website, discover this unbelievable secret and work together to try to expose the Tycoon, and stop him from carrying out his plans to “make America great again… for zombies!”
Yup, there is no mistaking at all that this novel is about THAT GUY. Maybe it is too obvious a pun to call the political satire in Zombie-In-Chief “biting,” but there is really no other way to describe it. And maybe it seems ridiculous at first to suggest that the Tycoon in our real lives is a member of the undead. Yet Kenemore’s observations and comparisons about being a zombie with regards to just about every facet of the man’s life are so spot-on and, again, genius, that I actually had to put the book down several times so I could have a good laughing fit. His orange face that everyone loves to make fun of? It’s makeup to hide the sallow tint of his dead skin. Even his reasons for wanting to build a border wall are addressed: It’s not to keep anybody out, but to keep all the human victims in, once the zombies have taken over.
Opposite the Tycoon, we have the two journalists who find out what he really is. Jessica Smith is an idealistic journalism school graduate. She’s hesitant to get involved at first because she’s new to the game and doesn’t want to risk her career. Tim Fife comes from the same journalistic background as Jessica, but instead went in the opposite direction and now writes for a trashy news website called TruthTeller. Each character has a rich personality that will have you rooting for them as they put their morals above all else, and risk everything to tell the truth. Also involved in the story are two zombie and anti-zombie secret societies, one whose name now serves as a loving tribute to a dearly departed horror director.
One thing I love about Kenemore’s writing here is the fact that he has no problem taking equal comedy jabs at his own main characters as he does at the Tycoon. There are numerous comments about the gluttony of the TruthTeller writers, for example. The barbs toward them may not sting as much, but it offers an equal balance so that even the people on the “good” side of the story are portrayed as imperfect, as everybody in the world is.
Despite the joy one gets from reading all the hilarious personal and political takedowns in Zombie-In-Chief, there is a chilling truth that lurks beneath it all. Kenemore hammers this home especially in the final chapter, where the story does not come out at all like I wanted it to. But it’s a comment on why and how we got to this point, and what our country has seemingly come to accept (though not everybody, of course). Everything that Kenemore brings up within these pages is both funny because it’s true, and sad because it’s true.
Still, I came away from reading Zombie-In-Chief with a huge smile on my face simply because of the fact that it exists. The book is a more-than-welcome change of pace from the horrible political news we read on a near daily basis by offering one of the best examples of satire I’ve ever read. You’ll fly through the story, waiting to see who or what is going to be skewered on the next page, while hoping that the lovable main characters will somehow be able to change history. Kenemore knows and loves his zombies, but his Zombie-In-Chief is possibly the best one he’s ever created.
Zombie-In-Chief is now available from Skyhorse Publishing.