"No Flesh Shall Be Spared" is the debut novel from Fangoria and Dread Central writer Thom Carnell and it is every horror loving dude's wet dream. Extreme zombie pit fighting, motherfuckers! I read that on the back cover and my dick immediately got hard!
Sometime in the near future, the world has been ravaged by an esoteric contamination carried back from an orbiting space station that crumbled to Earth and causes the dead to walk. Much of the Earth's population is affected and subsequently disposed of by military squads until things get back, somewhat, on track. What is the remaining civilization suppose to do with the residual herds of the undead? Why, profit on them, of course! Thus, the ever-popular Undead Fight League is born... The central character is a nomadic bad-ass named Cleese, residing in the San Francisco, who is recruited by a soulless hotshot businessman to become the next big competitor in the zombie fighting federation. His reluctance is swayed by the promise of fortunes and he is thrust into tough training regiments, dangerous sparring matches with the hungry undead and, eventually, the arena.
Throughout the book, certain chapters provide flashbacks to various characters amidst the initial zombie outbreak. The best flashback (as well as my favorite part of the novel) involves Cleese being taken in by a wooded survival compound that scavenges through the zombie infested city for supplies. Another memorable point takes place in an elementary school that becomes swarmed with the undead. There is one chapter involving a mortician that I found a tad slow and needlessly descriptive.
The story of Cleese's rise to fame from slaughtering the feral shells of past humanity is very interesting and rife with social commentary on the relentlessness of powerful corporate America's need to capitalize on tragedy. Carnell uses this theme consistently throughout "No Flesh Shall Be Spared" from the point-of-view of the "products" whose lives are completely valueless in the eyes of the wealthy who are desperate to exploit their livelihood , even in the wake of widespread disaster.
Aside from the clever social statements made in the book (much more cleverly than George A. Romero THINKS he can devise, I must say), there is plenty of detailed bloodshed within the brutal Colosseum and well fleshed out characters. Carnell's writing style is especially fast and instinctive with plenty of idiosyncratic hints of philosophy that should have you skimming back and re-reading. A certain chapter that is entirely from a zombie's perspective is exceptionally creepy and brilliantly written...
I am very eager for the next Carnell novel. I could definitely see this concept being formed into a series... "No Flesh Shall Be Spared" is a must read!