Saturday, April 21, 2018

Rated Z: Money Shoot (Rated Z #1) by Brahm Stroker

The world is going to hell - people are dying, zombies are rising and everything is falling apart. Which rather interrupts porn stars Dick Shooter’s and Bunny Hole’s latest scene.

They try to protect those they care about as the world continues to descend - and eventually end up in a mega-church

So I saw this book and realised it was a zombie apocalypse told from the point of view of a porn star, complete with puns.

Naturally I told myself I was above such puerile nonsense and I will not lower myself for such clearly gratuitous ridiculousness.

And then I requested it. Because you all knew I would, right? Our protagonist is called Dick Shooter, of course I had to request this!

I didn’t go into this book expecting something especially high brow. I expected something ridiculous, unnecessarily sexualised but probably very fun. On some level I was right - this was fun, extremely fun. It was silly, it was often ridiculous, we have an extremely well endowed porn star couple known and recognised far and wide and zombie diseases causing appendages to drop off. Hell we have a character called Mr. Bater. Of course it’s super childish in places - but it’s fun and surprisingly recognises lines.

There’s also a lot of really cute moments - like people believing (not unreasonably) that this is the end of the world and our porn star protagonists camping in a church. In a surprising move there’s some very pragmatic alliances of necessity, some recognition that while doing porn is not morally right with the church goers, Dick coming back from the dead and seeming to have

In fact Dick and Bunny, while not exactly brilliant, aren’t depicted as bimboes either. They’re not shamed or attacked by either their depiction or the other characters for being porn stars. Dick may not be the best father but he’s not a completely awful one and clearly loves and cherishes his daughter, Abigail. And she is a brilliant, smart, mature and excellent character. Bunny loves sex, isn’t shamed for this, is clearly not damaged or hurting or broken or wrong for both being a porn star and enjoying her work. She’s also clever, capable and a good person to have at your back in a crisis. Also it’s a running joke that all these nice moral upright people around Dick and Bunny definitely recognise them.

We also have vignettes of a range of other characters and little glimpses into their own characters and histories - a woman recovering from childhood sexual abuse and how that has caused issues with sex which were hard for her relationship, people who sought religion but were shunned for something as shallow as being tattooed. A man with a severe compulsive eating disorder which, while not examined, seemed to depict him more as being a figure of pity than ridicule: albeit also a figure of disgust. A man who struggles with severe anxiety and a lot of understanding around that: again, no mockery but careful management. There’s a compound of gay men - and it’s not unproblematic. We have a definite reliance on stereotype and even a sex-predator undertone. But equally there’s an edge there that suggests some level of performativity as well, especially in a world which is increasingly dangerous and they have one of the few safe spaces: these men are not going to hide and instead are going to throw it all out there, especially when it comes to challenging some clearly homophobic guests: they throw their sexuality in these men’s faces as a challenge.

We also have a series of minor POC characters among the many side plots and experiences as we see the many people dealing with the growing zombie apocalypse

Look I’ve said all of these things like this book is even remotely highbrow or sensible or full of analysis. It isn’t. That’s the point. This is a laughable often silly book of zombie porn stars with guns and a series of ridiculous scenes as people react to this. Yet it still included multiple minor POC, LGBTQ people, people with mental health issues and while not being terrible with them - but not once deviating from the sheer silliness of the plot and the characters. You. Can. Do. Both.

I do quite like the concept that zombie-ism doesn’t exactly turn you into a brain dead eating machine but shuts down a lot of the brain and leaves you stuck in your obsession. So the glutton just keeps eating and eating and eating. A woman obsessed with work becomes a workaholic and her issues . A bratty, self-absorbed teenager just gets worse and worse. Zombieism takes them all to the next level.

I also really like the villain here and why she’s focused on Dick and Bunny as evil. I like that her grievances have some kind of reasonable foundation: she has been treated terribly and exploited and dismissed. But her targets are still misplaced - and yes we have an anti-porn crusader as the villain.

In all - it was a fun read. And I expected that, I expected these rather silly characters to be charging around with many many many shenanigans. But I didn’t expect it to be this fun, I didn’t expect it to be childish but to know where the lines should be. And I didn’t expect a decent plot, an interesting concept and a series of fun vignettes showing a whole lot people reacting to the zombie apocalypse with a whole lot of fun which works so well. It actually pulls it off