Robert Turner is given the thankless and impossible task of making the reruns of an old outdated cooking show interesting again. Luckily he has an uncle that has invented a machine that brings the dead back to life. After trying it out on a cat that becomes mean and hungry enough to chase pit bulls, he convinces his uncle to revive the 15 year old corpse of the cooking show’s host Floyd Rampant with the idea of using the resurrected chef to hype the show. The experiment is highly successful but Floyd has bigger ambitions — he is set on making an army of celebrity zombie chefs thus creating his own “Cookiphate” based on the devotion of one main food ingredient. Human flesh.
That is how Jack Strange starts his debut novel Celebrity Chef Zombie Apocalypse, to be called CCZA to maintain my sanity and preserve my typing fingers. We’ve had zombie everything else so celebrity chefs seem to be a logical extension. The author’s zombies are of the thinking type and Floyd Rampant is an especially smart one. Hence we have a bizarre plot being hatched by him that includes all the cannibalism and massacre one would expect in a novel with such a title. The book starts out like Bizarro black humor but soon morphs into an equally dark socio-political satire. Yet the objective of a farce like this is never lost no matter how many topical turns it takes. It makes you laugh even at the rather comical but grotesque and gruesome stuff.
CCZA manages to make fun of a lot of things: cooking shows, the media, politicians, the military and, of course, zombies, although I doubt real zombies have the ability to understand the humor. Strange has a lot of funny ideas going from his head to the pages; I do wish he spent a little more time on the characters though. With the exception of Floyd Rampant, the rest of the cast weaves in and out without real focus. It creates little grounding in the novel, which made me think I was reading a different novel by the end due to the switch from horror farce to social satire. At some point, the cleverness outweighed the structure but that did not keep me from laughing. CCZA is a very witty take on the over-populated Zombie sub-genre of horror novels. There is always room for a zombie novel that makes you laugh.
I do have one minor complaint, though: It doesn’t include any recipes.