Thom Carnell No Flesh Shall be Spared

ISBN 13: 9780615403939

No Flesh Shall be Spared

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( 30 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780615403939: No Flesh Shall be Spared

Set in a near future where society has dealt with the global outbreak of the Living Dead, a new highly lucrative international sport, zombie pit fighting, emerges. NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED is the story of Cleese, his recruitment and rise to supremacy in this violent world where every match could be his last. The Dead will fall. Friends will die. The question that arises is that of Cleese's fate in the ensuing mayhem.

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About the Author:

Carnell, genre journalist and three-time International Horror Guild Award Nominee, has taken the zombie mythos one step further by combining it with mixed martial arts death matches.

Carnell's unique background as a funeral arranger and embalmer gives the book realistic imagery few other writers have achieved in the horror genre, with a writing style that is reminiscent of the easy, colloquial language of Joe R. Lansdale and the heat-of-battle immediacy of Robert E. Howard.

Review:

Full disclosure: Carnell, author of the rollicking new zombies-meet-Ultimate Fighting novel, NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED, is a longtime contributor to FANGORIA magazine. Please don't let notions of nepotism dissuade you from taking this review seriously, thus depriving yourself of a brawny, bloody slice of escapism that will launch your inner fourteen-year-old boy into paroxysms of glee. If you no longer nurture an inner fourteen-year-old boy (or are female), your enthusiasm for NO FLESH MAY BE SPARED may be dampened, since Carnell's effort is bolstered by the pillars of male adolescent interest: martial arts, girls, pro sports and messy undead mastication. NO FLESH's hero is Cleese, a mono-monikered tough guy recruited by the televised Undead Fight League to battle zombies in a cage for money. Cleese is the typically sullen antiauthoritarian whose ilk is usually portrayed onscreen by thick slabs like Vin Diesel. He finds himself sequestered in a Spartan training facility, where he's tutored on the finer points of competitive zombie dismemberment by Monk, his equally gruff coach and veteran of the cage. Cleese soon adapts to the UFL's philosophy of Zen and the art of mutilation, with firearms, blades and bare-knuckles at his tactical disposal. Once he's finally inside the cage and dispensing his particular style of havoc on platoons of rotting combatants, his matches quickly climb the Nielsen ratings. Outside the cage, he falls for a lovely, lethal co-competitor while struggling to sort out treacherous motives behind the figures manipulating the UFL from the safety of their plush boardrooms. NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED betters the recent spate of redundant zombie apocalypse novels in the sense that, here, the apocalypse has already come and gone. Readers are spared another unnecessary rehash of bursting graves and bickering survivors, as the initial outbreak is only glimpsed in flashback chapters. Society has had years to adjust, transfigure, and even profit from its new circumstance, its new idea of normality. NO FLESH's central conceit of zombie prize fighting is not exactly original (A similar sequence in Romero's LAND OF THE DEAD leaps immediately to mind) and the story follows a mostly predictable sports/action movie formula, but the steady pacing, friendly prose and tense fight passages combine to work smashingly well. The inevitable moments of zombie carnage are satisfyingly wet, the height of which is reached in the opening chapter and features a breastfeeding mother and a baby who is very, very, hungry. Really, Fango's only real quibble is this: while definitely appropriate for the subject matter, Carnell's testosterone-amped dialogue often tries too hard to be both breezy and threatening, with grown men bumping chests and calling each other f**ksticks and a**clowns . Also, can we please now have a moratorium on straight-faced, non-ironic usage of the phrase opened up a can of whup-ass? Even with its flaws, NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED trumps pretty much every summer action movie released over the past few years in terms of providing muscular, rambunctious fun. A peek into a lesser-explored dimension of the zombie mythos is always welcome, and if you perhaps know of any real fourteen-year-old-boys that you d like to see put down the game controller and dig into an actual book, buy them NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED now and thank FANGORIA later. --Trevor Parker, Fangoria Magazine

What happens when the inevitable zombie apocalypse finally does arrive? Does the world bow down to the masses of shambling dead? Do we run out with flame-throwers and chainsaw-bladed weed-whackers to take care of the undead horde? Well, according to Carnell, we do to them what we do to every other annoying person in the world: We put them on television for our entertainment. In this version, though, instead of putting nine of them in a single apartment for hilarity and hijinx, they're thrown into the brutal world of zombie pit fighting. Against live people.

NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED is an impressive debut novel from Carnell that shows surprising depth and character development. He also shows the ability to repulse and fascinate in the same keystroke. The first chapter, Motherhood, which takes place before the whole world has gone to hell in a handbasket, is a slice of the final day of a drug-addled woman who accidentally kills her newborn baby by smothering it with her boobs while absent-mindedly trying to breastfeed it. Of course, being that it's the zombie apocalypse, the baby comes back to "life"; and bites the woman's nipple off and promptly kills her. That pretty much sets the tone here: grim, gritty, and graphic.

NO FLESH SHALL BE SPARED is really the story of Cleese, a tough-talking guy who has a knack for kicking the holy hell out of the undead. Spotted by a producer, Cleese is recruited for the zombie pit fights. He gets paired up with a pit veteran, Monk, who proceeds to refine his barbaric style and teach him how to not only destroy zombies, but also to entertain the crowds. Really, the zombies are background, incidental to the general plot of human interaction and what we turn into when things really go to pot.

Carnell has an interesting writing style, one part Lansdale, one part King, with just a splash of Dashiell Hammett thrown in for good measure. His chapters flow nicely and build in all the right places. As far as tension, his plot moves at a pace that varies from slow and plodding to butt-puckeringly tense in just the space of a few pages. While the slow bits could be trimmed without losing anything, the other parts are necessary, if for no other reason than to see how tightly the reader can grip the cover.

While this may be the debut novel of Carnell, this certainly isn't his first rodeo. He functions as the head writer for Carpe Noctem magazine and is a contributing writer for both Dread Central and Fangoria. With this new step in the literary world, one can only imagine what will come next from him. If he improves with his next book, Carnell will be a literary force to be reckoned with. --Scott A. Johnson, Dread Central

No one has done more for legitimizing the beauty of the horror genre than Carnell. --Clive Barker

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Thom Carnell
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Thom Carnell
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