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A Good Night for Shooting Zombies by Jaco…
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A Good Night for Shooting Zombies

by Jaco Jacobs

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A Good Night for Shooting Zombies is a unique light-read, though it might not be quite what you were expecting from the title. It is actually contemporary fiction, focusing on two boys (one of whom is seriously ill) who bond over filming a zombie movie. However, the story did have a few problems.

My biggest issue with A Good Night for Shooting Zombies was its pacing. The novel is incredibly short, which makes it bite-sized for younger readers, but this really did impact its subject matter for me. The novel contains a lot of important themes, with the most major of these being coping with death, yet it did not have the time to develop them. While it reminded me in some ways of A Monster Calls, as a way of explaining the concept of terminal illness to a young audience, I did not feel as though there was enough focus on Vusi's illness. Other than occasionally looking pale, it does not seem to effect him that much.

The plot concerning the robbers also felt a bit tacked on. This doesn't really add much tension to the story as it's all over a bit too quickly. In fact, it just felt a little out of place. In a story that is otherwise just about friendship (and making a movie), it did not really gain anything from having a subplot about three youths foiling a gang of robbers.

Still, the novel was a least fun. Although brief, I did enjoy the scenes that focused on Martin and Vusi making the movie. It was clearly always a labour of love and carried the deeper metaphor of being Vusi's attempts to confront his fears about his illness and Martin about the loss of his father. However, I did feel that the ending was a bit too abrupt and neat. The epilogue reveals that one major event actually occurs off-page, which came as a bit of a shock. I will not spoil it here but I found it frustrating that this did not actually occur within the story itself.

In terms of character, the two protagonists were strong and did at least feel like thirteen year old boys. The novel did give a good feel of what life was like for them living in a poor area of South Africa, as well as some of the dangers of their area. While the novel was too brief for me to get fully attached to them, they were at least likeable. However, Martin's mode of speech and obsession with numbers did occasionally get a little irritating and did not add all that much to the story.

Anyhow, I think that about covers it. A Good Night for Shooting Zombies was fun for a light read but lacked any real depth. Perhaps if it had been a bit longer it could have carried these themes but it was ultimately a little forgettable. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Oct 7, 2018 |
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