Working Stiff by Rachel Caine
Reading level: Adult
Genre: Contemporary fantasy
Mass market paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: Roc Fantasy (Penguin Group)
Release date: August 2, 2011
Series: The Revivalist #1
Source: Personal Shelf
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn’t the most glamorous career choice, but at least if offers stable employment—until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele… as part of an extortion racket. Now Bryn faces being terminated (literally) with extreme prejudice.
With the assistance of corporate double agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem—pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She better do it fast before she becomes a zombie slave—a real working stiff.
She’d be better off dead…
Rachel Caine is better known for her Morganville Vampires and Weather Warden series, but she is also the author of this newer Revivalists series. Working Stiff, is the first book, which came out mid-2011, and it’s a zombie-ish affair that I picked up on a whim, because I was in the mood for a zombie book. Actually, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve never read a Morganville Vampires book. I’ve heard a lot about the series and most of you paranormal junkies will probably think I was holed up somewhere without Internet or book access, for not getting hooked on Caine’s books before now. After reading Working Stiff, everything will change because Rachel Caine has just found her newest fan. I will definitely keep reading this series and try her other books as well.
Working Stiff not your typical zombie/end-of-the-world/oh-my-God-it’s-the-apocalypse book. These zombies, if you even want to call them that, aren’t flesh and brain eating monsters. They’re actually just normal, everyday people who are resurrected (or as they say in this book, revived) with the help of a little injection of Returné. The wannabe science geek in me was very interested in this sort of zombie because I love scientific facts in fiction. However, I was a little disappointed with the explanation on how the injection works. I understand that the author couldn’t make it too complicated since she might have lost a few readers with technical terms. Here is the explanation that left me wanting:
“Without another injection, the nanites in your bloodstream will shut down in twenty-four hours. They’re all that’s keeping your body running, Bryn. They can repair damage and maintain your body at a certain level but they don’t restore life permanently. It’s a facsimile of life, not sustainable on its own.” p. 46
It’s not too often that you find the main character dead within the first 50 pages of a book. Okay, maybe it’s happening more and more now, with the increasing popularity of vampire novels, but that’s not my point. Bryn, the unlucky main character is murdered, ironically, in a morgue. With the help of the secret miracle drug called Returné, the pharmaceutical company Pharmadene literally brings her back to life to solicit her help in capturing a mole in the company. It’s not exactly a job that Bryn wanted, but working for Pharmadene is now essential to her survival.
I get the chills thinking about this drug that could make people live on forever. If something like this becomes a reality, it would cause a lot of chaos and instability in the world. First of all, it wouldn’t be good for the economy. Pharmaceutical companies would be at war and would more or less control who gets to “live” forever and at what price. There would surely be an increase in Black Market sales and corruption. Secondly, just imagine how the government would try to get involved and to gain control of it all. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find a chilling advertising clip, trying to sell us this drug through despair, loss and tragedy.
Bryn sort of reminds me of Mac from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series. They both have the same perseverance to outlive the bad guy, even if it’s not always clear who the bad guy may be. Also, they’re both determine to find the truth about themselves, while always staying relatively cheery, even if they find themselves in bad situations. And of course, both girls have a rich, hot guy looking out for them, which is quite handy at times.
Bryn is very witty, which makes the dialogue fun and easy to read. The banter between Bryn and Patrick McCallister, the head of security at Pharmadene (and the rich, hot guy), is entertaining and makes you to wonder if they’ll ever come to their sense and get involved romantically. The action is pretty much non stop and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Surviving the corporate pharmaceutical world shouldn’t be easy, even for the dead and nearly indestructible zombies like Bryn.
If you’re in the mood for a typical zombie book, this might not be the right match for you. For those of you who have an open mind, I urge you to pick up this novel. Rachel Caine has completely changed my view of zombies and has even turned some of them into “good guys.” Watch out for the next book of this series, Two Week’s Notice, which will be released in August 2012.