Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Deconstruction: Night of the Living Dead Christian 8

It's a small world and Luther doesn't like that church.

Welcome to the detailed (and, unfortunately, spoiler-rich) review of Night of the Living Dead Christian. For a briefer review that doesn't give anything away, read the main review. If you're curious, here's a discussion of why I'm doing this.

This is a rather long bit of reaction, so I'm breaking it up into sections. Hopefully that will allow for more bite-sized discussions. So, now that you've all been fairly warned, we'll pick up the deconstruction after the jump:

To recap: Narrator-Matt and his new friends, Dr. Culbetron the Mad Scientist and Hibbs 3000 the android, have discovered a werewolf in their neighborhood. They have decided to help the werewolf, Luther, seek a cure for his condition. To that end, they have stopped to talk to Narrator-Matt's other neighbor and old friend, Lara, who happens to be a vampire. Lara reveals that a cure is possible - difficult, but possible - and tells her story. They are interrupted by the arrival of the werewolf hunter, Borut, and Lara hands them a business card for the church/pastor who helped her find the path to redemption. She then holds back the werewolf hunter while the others escape.

All caught up now? Good.

Luther looks at the business card that Lara gave him and immediately refuses to go. The church, he explains, is his father's church - the same father who named him Luther Martin, who spent so much time trying to raise him as a proper Lutheran that he never managed to be a father, the father who condemned him for (and quite possibly caused, though that isn't ever said outright) his lycanthropy. Now, even bearing in mind that the book is meant to be a farce, the fact that the church that helped Lara happens to be run by Luther's father seems awfully contrived.

But, okay. Evidently we need to try a few other things before we return to the solution that we've been told actually works. Church is out; they decide to put Luther in counseling instead. Narrator-Matt hates counselors, owing to a bad experience in grade school; nevertheless he is seeing one, or has been seeing one, and despite his apparent lack of respect for the woman, he decides to take Luther to see her.

This brings me back to one of the recurring issues that I have with this book: it's a small, small world. (If you just heard Jiminy Cricket singing that, I can only apologize.) A sample of every conceivable kind of monster lives right there in Narrator-Matt's neighborhood. There are only two churches: the zombie church, and the one that Luther's father runs - both located within convenient driving distance of Matt's home. (If Narrator-Matt attends a third church, and it seems like he must, then he hasn't bothered to mention it - and apparently it doesn't occur to him to invite Luther to visit it.) The monster-hunter that's chasing Luther just happens to be the same one who once hunted Lara; possibly he's the only monster-hunter in the world, which is why he doesn't specialize in just one sort of monster? I don't know. But for a setting that could be a very big world indeed, it feels strangely claustrophobic.

So the entire crowd heads over to the psychologist's office. She agrees to see Luther, and rather high-handedly schedules an appointment for Robert the almost-zombie as well. Psychology doesn’t get a very charitable treatment in this book, but we’ll look at that a bit later - I want to come back to it after we've seen the second psych-related section.

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