Reviews for The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery:
“A humorous and surprising satire of both the zombie apocalypse and the culture of addiction.
Bill, a middle-aged man once poised for a promising career in politics, greets several winners of the New York Lottery. It’s become his dubious honor to calm the winners down and get them prepared for the requisite press conference. The characters are always the same: overweight and all too ready to take the lump sum and blow the winnings as quickly as possible. But the striking Courtney catches his eye. He sees there is something different about her. Young and apparently strong, he figures she’ll actually be wise enough to collect her money over time. Bill is so well-rendered and the set piece of the conference—its humanity, humor and banality—so convincing that by the time the lottery winners, reporters and staff members (eventually, the entire city) are brutally ravaged by zombies, it actually comes across as an enjoyable shock. Despite its grizzly gore, the zombie apocalypse here is worn rather lightly, and as Bill and Courtney face their travails in a destroyed city and ponder what has kept them alive, the deeper layers of both humor and allegory arise. Bill and Courtney discover that, despite differences in age and experience, both their lives have been colored by alcoholism and addiction. Courtney, though not seemingly an addict, was reared in the environment of addiction. As they make their way through and away from the city, they collect other survivors, one of the more interesting being a young man they find in a jail cell. He convinces the group that he’s not a killer but a drug dealer by trade, just trying to make his way through the recession. Though somewhat derivative in its treatment of the zombie mythos, the novel’s final passages—with a sharp focus on survivors still learning to deal with addiction and the consequences of self-reliance, denial and dependence—are wholly original and a satisfying end. Despite it being yet another foray into the land of the undead, the care taken in both characterization and prose earns the reader’s time.
A well-written, thoughtful treatment not just of a popular literary trope but of a nagging social issue.”
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Review: …It is very well-written and well-paced. The writing flows naturally and is not self-conscious. The dialogue is believable. It is a zombie story, so it is not really realistic (of course, this genre is not supposed to be). This is an engaging and entertaining read. Very well-done! Rebelliondogspublishing.com:
Just released – Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery – You’ll squirm, you’ll smile, you’ll need a meeting
Ashley Prentice Norton, author of The Chocolate Money (Houghton Mifflin 2012):
I don’t normally read this genre but the prose was so taut and the premise so original that I kept turning pages. The writer grounds the story by setting in post nine eleven NYC, opening with the ceremony of awarding lottery prizes. And then there’s the thirteenth step work — lots of naughtiness amidst the mayhem. This book deserves lots of accolades. Read it!! http://amzn.to/1bN3OHu Dorri Olds, Journalist, as seen on Dorriolds.com: Michele W. Miller’s first novel is a story about seven people united during a zombie invasion. At first I thought, zombie-schmombie, been there, read that. But Miller’s novel has a twist: it’s a spoof on very specific Alcoholics Anonymous groups that distort the AA way of life into strict fanaticism. Alcoholics by nature tend to rebel. If AA had rules most people wouldn’t stay. But in the cult group in Miller’s novel, there are vulnerable personalities that fell prey to the fanatics and their teachings. Through gallows humor and strong characters, Miller leads the reader on a journey through an Armageddon. As zombies storm Lexington Avenue, seven people find their way to each other, and together they dodge radiation, step over corpses, and try to suss out which people are alive, dead, or undead abominations As the plot develops we wade through characters including a politician caught with his pants down and socks on. We meet lottery winners whose elation crumbles fast. In an apocalypse, one doesn’t have the luxury of spending sprees. Flammable objects explode, sending booms across the East River. Survivors make desperate decisions as the pervasive stench of bodies follows them. A woman fearing the zombie invasion scans her brain. Wouldn’t you try to remember what Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order SVU would do? This small group of people, reminiscent of “Night of the Living Dead,” are left to unite with the strength in numbers theory. As with all character-driven plots we see the best and the worst of personalities. This small group of survivors have one thing in common—they all carry the alcoholic gene. As they seek refuge they stumble upon a settlement of AA fanatics. Readers in recovery will laugh in all the right places but even if you’re not in AA, the story holds enough excitement to keep you turning the pages. It’s a fast read and a fun ride. http://www.dorriolds.com/2013/12/thirteenth-step-zombie-recovery/ Isabel Cristina Pinedo, Author of Recreational Terror: Women & the Pleasures of Horror Film Viewing (SUNY Press): It’s eerie to experience the zombie apocalypse in the big apple. Likeable characters. Moves at a good clip. Good read.
Mark Matthews, Author of On the Lips of Children:
As an author, fan of the genre, recovering addict of 20 years, and substance abuse counselor, I have nothing but envy for the premise of this book. Addicts, and those who have the genetic makeup of an addict, are immune to the Zombie infection. Zombies don’t smell them and seek them out the way they do with other humans. So what is left wandering the post-apocalypic zombie wasteland is either recovering addicts, or those who continue to get high on the scraps left behind. Why can’t I think of something cool like that? What follows is a group of those in recovery trying to work together. And like all the best zombie stories, this isn’t about the zombies at all. It is to see if humans can keep their humanity, or will they become like the undead they are trying to escape. But in this group, the stakes and dynamics are different. There is risk of relapse, there is sponsors and cross-addiction and AA rigidity and all that exists in our world now, just made that much greater by the zombie infection. If you spent any time at an AA or NA table, you will smile and become part of this group as you read about their adventures. Either way, a Group Of Drunks as the sole survivors in a world of zombies is something you should experience. http://amzn.to/InnFp3
J. Powell Ogden, Author of The Guardian’s Playlist:
What do you get when the only people left in the world are zombies and humans carrying the gene that predisposes them to addiction? Beautifully riveting, dysfunctional heartbreak. This is The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery at its core. It was chilling, challenging, and packed with all your favorite zombie character defects. I love Stephen King’s THE STAND, and The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery, definitely smacks of that. I was literally pulled from one page to the next by zombies and the unpredictable behavior of addicts, recovering addicts and the children of addicts. Addiction, Recovery, and those affected by it each make up their own secret society complete with language, customs, quirks, and hang-ups. Each looks down their nose in one way or another at the other, and in Miller’s masterful work, she’s thrown them all into chaos together. How many survive depends upon whether or not they can resist old temptations, forget stereotypes and forge new friendships. Great book! http://amzn.to/1aJWgc0
5.0 out of 5 stars Zombies, boozers, guns, pill poppers, blood….and love. What more do you need?, November 8, 2013
Michele Miller’s “The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery” has all the things that appeal in a page turner: great pace, a compelling story, a groovy backdrop (who doesn’t like zombies?), engaging characters and just enough madness to keep the whole package together. Miller’s storytelling talents keeps the reader racing along amidst the insanity of a new world that has just dropped on an unsuspecting group of strangers…all of them bound by something that surprises even them. Sure they drop a bit (ok, quite a lot, actually) of zombie blood, but when the marauding hordes are on your tail, sometimes a good defence is a good offence. Miller doesn’t squirm away in the gore department, but she certainly does keep it fun. Miller’s characters also traverse into some other frightening places, namely a camp that challenges her character’s philosophies and faith. One does not need to be in recovery or even know much about it to get the undercurrent of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and/or understanding what it’s like to be free and yet not free. Sometimes freedom comes with a cost, and Miller shows us that sometimes the greatest challenges don’t come from masses of the undead who want to chomp on your brain, but from inner conflicts – how true does one stay to themselves at the risk of other people’s safety and well being? And this is the joy in this book – the wonderful balancing act that Miller does between shoot now and ask questions later, and ask questions now and then shoot for the moon. Miller’s writing is clean, compact and yet vivid. Her characters are enticing and very real. We will all recognize at least one person in her book, and it helps to create a fantastic landscape in which her sometimes heart stopping action plays in. Her snappy dialogue carries the day and gives us a glimpse into the pain that all these characters carry in their lives. Miller humanizes the experience of those afflicted with addiction and paints them in the wide hues and colours that takes away the mystery and stigma of addiction. A worthy recommendation!
I’ve pretty much had enough of the popular zombie craze of the last several years. And don’t even mention the vampire thing — Twilight & its contemporaries make me sick. I’m an old school horror and science fiction guy, and I paid my dues throughout high school and college by way of teasing, mockery, and general disrespect for those of us who liked that sort of thing. I have no interest in skinny jeans-wearing, caramel latte-drinking, “lite” fair-weather horror fans. Then along comes The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery. This is horror the way that it should be (blood, gore, terror, paranoia) but also horror for the 21st century — the details ring true and are thought out well, and the characters seem like people that you know, or might know, or even like yourself. The novel had this jaded horror snob compulsively turning pages, and admiring the new twists on an old story. In particular, I liked how the author explored some of the dangers (besides the legions of undead and crazed survivors) of a modern post-apocalyptic America that I don’t think have ever been incorporated before in other zombie stories. Highly recommended: suspenseful, scary, bloody, and with surprises and new ideas. Excellent!
What a great premise: the people with the most immunity to the zombie virus (or whatever it is that causes the end of the world as we know it) are those with the “alcoholic gene,” either alcoholics/addicts or the children of alcoholics or addicts. The imperfect survivors are only human; their recovery is an ongoing process no matter what they are facing. And of course, not everyone who survives has the benefit of a program… I am not a zombie novel or a horror fiction fan. But the story was so gripping and the characters so three-dimensional, that I found it beyond a genre. It is also tempered with a sense of humor and humanity that is refreshing. This is one of those books that is hard to put down until you are done—and it is hard to put down even then. I felt as if I got to know these characters and was sad to let them go. Looking forward to a sequel!
In many ways this novel is like a softer Stephen King story. SK without the gore, but with a story that hooks you in quickly and good character development that keeps you turning pages. Many references to current events, and near-current events. Look for the Occupy Zombieland joke. I wouldn’t mind a sequel.
I can’t give this book five stars because I’m such a pacifist. Zombies are not part of my generation’s culture and I really hated the splattering brains. That said, this book is fast-paced, exciting and interesting. A cast of diverse characters set out to survive in a post-zombie world and their adventures drew me in from the first chapter. Characters are sympathetic, situations are realistic, the plot pulls you forward through space and time on a well-described travelogue from a destroyed New York City to I won’t say where. Because that is part of the mystery. Who is immune to the zombie virus and why is the other mystery, tied up nicely in the end of the book.
I really enjoyed this book. The plot moves along at a great pace and the characters, were, for the most part, very endearing. I was impressed with the originality of the premise, and I really appreciated the fact that she made a point to include the effects of the nuclear plants melting down into the scenario – a point missed by many zombie apocalypse stories. I know that many people in recovery from substance abuse will find this particularly engaging, and it will give those unfamiliar with 12 step programs an idea of the variations there are within the recovery community as well as an introduction to what 12 step programs are and aren’t about. I think her characters speak very well to the nature of the program and it’s members.
I’m a fan of zombie/apoclytpic stories, and like many others grown up with & around addicts. Michele does an excellent job not only portraying the dilemmas of being a sober addict, but in capturing the trauma added on by zombies. The book is never dull, and I was happily surprised at how easily I became attached to the characters. I look forward to more of your work, Michele!
To me, the zombie elements aren’t the most appealing part of this book, although they might be to a regular reader of the genre. But what a bunch of interesting characters, thrown together because they happen to share the substance-abuser gene, and amid New York landmarks which anyone who lives or has spent a lot of time here will recognize! I’m already imagining “the Thirteenth Step” as a film.
Great read, flows naturally and kept me glued to the book. Very well written and couldn’t put the book down.
What a great read. I’m not a big fan of gore or horror but what there is of that in this book is there to support the story and the amazing character development that unfolds. I cared about each one of their stories, rooted for them and cheered them on. Well written, entertaining and insightful. A highly nuanced story of people, relationships and survival instinct….in all its forms.
A real page-turner full of vividly drawn characters and unexpected plotlines. You don’t have to be in recovery (or a zombie) to love this book.
World war Z meets the recovery movement. An exciting read with insiders guide to the 12 step process. Sure to be a cult classic for the recovery community.
Absolutely loved this book!! Hooks you right from the start and doesn’t let you go. If you love this genre, you will love this book, but it’s even more than just another “apocalypse” story. It’s a story of weakness, strength, love, hate, good triumphing over bad, intelligence, stupidity….all things recovery is made up of…with a great story to go along with it. Can’t wait to read more from Michele W. Miller!!!
With only the addict gene in common, a motley crew of addicts and children of addicts fight to find a life worth living in a decimated world. THE THIRTEENTH STEP: ZOMBIE RECOVERY was a quarter-finalist selection in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.