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I Am Scrooge – a review

January 18, 2011

The whole title of this book is I am Scrooge – a zombie story for Christmas. The moment you read a title like that, you assume the book will either be great or atrocious. You’re not too far off the mark with this one.

As the title hints at, the book is a very, very loose combination of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In the book, Ebenezer Scrooge lands in all sorts of trouble with the walking dead, as he’s lead through time by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

Before this book, which I got as a Christmas present from a friend of mine, I’d only read one humorous zombie novel. Or rather, tried to read one. The much hyped Pride and Prejudice and zombies was in a word terrible. I made it halfway through it, after which I’d had enough of the miserably poorly written, utterly crap rape of a literary classic. The graphic novel was a bit better, but not by much. With this wonderful blend of humour, zombies and literary classics in mind, I approached I Am Scrooge with more than a bit trepidation.

Humour is such a difficult thing to pull off. At times it’s enough for someone to have a bad bout of flatulence to produce enough laughs for a week, at times you need a bit more. This is especially true with books, and I’m happy to report that I Am Scrooge made me laugh already in the preface, as the writer Adam Roberts sincerely and with a 19th century turn of phrase wishes that his book not be remade as a major motion picture starring Will Smith.

Roberts is a decent writer and comedian, and there a fair few more or less witty puns in the text. He frequently breaks the fourth wall, commenting to the reader and explaining his choice of words. This effect is not used excessively, so it doesn’t turn dreary. Besides, the phrase “Fear stalked the city like a giant, er, stork” became one of my instant favourites as far as book quotes go. Roberts has clearly read his Terry Pratchett, so if you’re into that sort of humour, this should be right up your alley. Roberts has even included a nod in this direction, I believe, by renaming Bob Cratchit as Terence Cratchit. Terry Cratchit, get it? You probably did.

The story itself is a fun blend of the Dickens story, Victorian Science Fiction and zombie pop culture. At 153 pages, it’s a quick read and short enough so as not to get dull or repetitive. My only gripe is that age-old thing which I never get tired of bashing: zombies and brains (or braaaaaaains, as it’s usually spelled). For crying out loud, bloody Return of the Living Dead has forever stapled that thing over the whole genre. Grumble grumble.

Overall verdict: I Am Scrooge is a nice way to spend a few hours, especially if you’re into VSF or steampunk. Some of the jokes are a bit of hit and miss, but as a whole the book does provide a fair few laughs and a definitely original take on a classic story.

As mentioned, I got this as a gift. You can find it for EUR 7.05 (it’s a hardback) at The Book Depository, where it happens to be on sale at the moment.

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3 comments

  1. Have ordered Feed but this one may have to wait a while.


  2. Thanks for the review Mikko!
    I like Terry Pratchett so this caught my spark. So much I actually ordered the book right away, together with 10+ extra CD:s of music… Ouch!

    Cheers


    • I really like comments like this, they make me feel useful. Thanks for trusting my review, Tobbe! And I definitely know that feeling when you should order just one thing, and what do you know, it turns into 15…



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