My Name Was Nigel: Memoirs of a Killer Zombie is a unique take on zombie apocalyptic fiction, dropping the bog standard heroic group of humans we normally encounter and instead bringing a diary styled account of the end of the world from the perspective of one of the earliest turned zombies.
My Name Was Nigel is brought to us from the mind of British author, David O. Zeus. Aside from him being from the UK, I don’t really know much about the man. I guess I can safely assume he has a sense of humour though as his website blurb suggests he was born in Little Hintock (from the book, The Woodlanders). He also apparently saw action at the Battle of Hornburg (more commonly known as the Battle of Helms Deep from The Lord of the Rings) and recovered from his sustained injuries on Nomanisan Island (No Man Is An Island).
We do also know him to be the author of a great many short stories including the wonderfully named Foggy Love Bottom, I’m Not Matt Damon and also Scary Morning in the Woods, to name just a few. From what I can see, My Name Was Nigel: Memoirs of a Killer Zombie is his first full length novel. It was self released on the 20th of September 2020.
The past is written by the living; the future, by the dead.
Hello. My name was Nigel. I know that now. I didn’t for a while, but it came back to me eventually. As we approach the end or, as I like to say, ‘the beginning’, I felt I ought to relate my experiences of this last solar cycle. Mine has been a journey experienced by many since my own rising (‘birthday’, so to speak) so what I will describe will not necessarily be news (or of interest) to many, but there might yet be a select few who would welcome this record. At the very least, this journal will lie as a testament to death by one who rose in the early light-darks. Whether you yourself be Bean or Muter, this is your journey.
The whole of My Name Was Nigel is told from a truly unique perspective. The world is painted to life in the thoughts and memories of a recently diseased and discarded corpse who rises again. We understand that it is the early days of a spreading plague. An incoming zombie apocalypse though we join at the beginning. Our muter, as they are known, is not the first but he is one of the early ones and becomes a pivotal cog in the changing of the world. The handover from Beans (as we humans are referred to) to the future. Through memories, we know a lot of the story takes place in London though we also understand it isn’t just London that is burning, it is the world.
We join Nigel on his journey as he learns to evade other beans, and starts to acquire a taste for their flesh. We watch him learn our ways, becoming smarter and eventually growing their numbers. He soon realises his own purpose though, his personal mission – to bring death and enlightenment to the unforgiving, miserable existence of Beankind. This isn’t zombie chaos, mindlessness, desperation to feed. Nigel, and his growing band of followers see existence as a curse and death as release. Yes, the feed is important but here is more to them then that. Life is cruel, life is hard and most often, disappointing. Death is the cure, they are the instrument.
So we see Nigel reminisce on his quest. We see him adapt to the world, learning when to attack and when to step into the shadows. Nigel starts to control himself, turning his large meals into light bites and leaving them hidden to turn and join him. He returns to them, helps them and trains them. He is selective in who he frees. At first turning Beans to Muters when he feels they deserve to be freed and eventually turning those he feels will enhance his side. Those of little use make good meals but many others fill in gaps in their growing force. Those who know areas well or even those who are useful tactically to draw people in for feeding like young girls.
He learns himself too. Always working on techniques and expanding his knowledge. He is a visionary really – seeing a way to turn the Muters from a shadow force who live to feed to an all consuming plague. We hear through his words his amazement at the existence of us Beans. His annoyance with our words, our busying nature and constant attempts to survive. Nigel has no real emotion, or empathy, or so we are told. Time means nothing to him and his kind. They just exist burden free, feeding and moving forwards.
In My Name Wass Nigel though, we see certain “human” aspects to Nigel that i don’t think were necessarily meant to be there. Nigel is smart. Really smart. He sees that there is no future for Muters if they continue working quietly and carefully in the shadows. Bean forces are starting to take notice and the Muters are massively outnumbered. So he thinks, he schemes and he plans. Nigel realises the only way forward is to make us Beans realise what we haven’t quite realised and that is that we should really stop trying to survive and embrace the freedom of death.
So Nigel works, growing his team. As more and more o clocks pass by, Nigel’s first turnings become more experienced and start turning their own teams. Before we know it, Nigel has a loyal and dedicated militia of generals below him and, below them a rapidly growing army of saving angels. The time to step out of the shadows comes and Beankind find themselves ripe for the picking from an army that grew right under our arrogant noses.
As I said, My Name Was Nigel is a truly unique story and gives an amazing insight into the happenings of an apocalypse in a way we would never have considered. The zombies aren’t mindless, they are organised, quick, strong and they are burden free and comfortable. It can be quite a gruesome book. It isn’t gory per se but one of my favourite things in the book is the feeding. In particular how the Muters pick and enhance flavour. Its another genius little moment where we learn how a person in the heights of passion or adrenaline filled have a wonderful taste, in comparison to the cold, bland business man. We see Nigel and his team hold themselves back from attack while two lovers engage. Waiting for the moment of the most flavour before eating.
We see them chase a person they could easily grab purely to boost his fear and adrenaline levels to tickle the taste buds. Its a clever and exciting idea in a clever book. You really do have to admire the concept within My Name Was Nigel which is quite genius. But, the execution is not always quite so all encompassing. One of the biggest issues I found with the story was that large chunks of it were repetitive and boring. Chapter after chapter of the book followed the same story of Nigel goes out, Nigel turns someone, Nigel tells us about that new Muter, Nigel train them and end of Chapter. We then do the same thing, over and over and over…….
I also found myself strangely frustrated by the way Nigel spoke about death. See he spends a lot of time explaining his no longer required human emotion but then does things like seek out companionship, worry about the future and even mentions the excitement but burdensome nature of being one fo the first. Essentially hinting at the pressure on his shoulders. To all purposes, he suggests at times that he desires friendship, worries bout the future and is under a lot of pressure. That’s pretty damn human sounding to me.
I also found it annoying that he refers to us as Beans, them as Muters and time as O Clocks. Okay, a silly thing to be annoyed about but it was mainly due to the fact that he uses plenty of words and sentences that wouldn’t be misplaced in a English Professors dialogue. Maybe it was done purposely – you know, to show that our existence, their existence and time itself holds no real meaning for them anymore. I did consider that and accept I may be wrong and this may be another stroke of genius. I think I am right though and it is just over elaboration. Nigel puts a lot of importance in time. He spends a lot of his forward planning which does not give the impression of a being not interested in time.
Still, it is a very clever story and I can’t help but admire it conceptually. It really did excite me at times and is often gloriously descriptive. It is written well and flows pretty good, I genuinely could picture scenes clearly in my head which is testament to the quality of the descriptive writing. I would probably have enjoyed it more if it has been cut a bit shorter as it feels flabby at times and I obviously had a bit of an issue with what felt to me like contradictory writing at times.
Even with my gripes though, I think it is a story well wroth dedicating some time to. It can be a tough slog at times but persevere. If you like zombies in general, this is an eye opening account that will change your way of thinking drastically.
Grab yourself a copy from Amazon, here.
David O. Zeus Links
My Name Was Nigel: Memoirs of a Killer Zombie (David O. Zeus)
Book Title: My Name Was Nigel: Memoirs of a Killer Zombie
Book Author: David O Zeus
The Final Score - 6.5/10