Review: The Dead Run by Adam Mansbach
If you had a fast-moving zombie with Kurt Vonnegut’s sense of humor and put it in bed with an Aztec god, their love child would be Adam Mansbach’s The Dead Run. Mansbach, author of the New York Times best seller Go the Fuck to Sleep, has created a story that will keep you up all night.
Anyone who is familiar with issues along the Mexican-American border will immediately recognize the world Mansbach brings the reader into: Christianity is fatally merged with Aztec myths; the police are in bed with the narcos and cultish religious leaders; and young women vanish in broad daylight.
The novel starts off well-grounded in the so-called “real world.” In the middle of a contraband run, the basically good Jess Galvan is sent to a Mexican prison after attacking a police officer who was participating in a gang rape.
If you think it’s dark now, it’s only getting darker.
Galvan’s daughter Sherry is kidnapped by cult leaders who want to use her as a human sacrifice to help bring about the end of days. The cult leaders, who follow some strange fusion of Christianity and Aztec beliefs, use Galvan’s daughter as leverage to send him on another border run with a different kind of contraband: the magically still-beating heart of a virgin.
As a detective and a psychologist familiar with the cult rush to find Sherry before it’s too late, Galvan and his crew move through the desert with the virgin heart. On the way, they encounter the bodies of other young women who were killed before their time. Angry, heartless, and beautiful, these zombie women seek the heart in the box and the lives that were wrongly taken from them.
We meet people who have so little vested in the status quo that they are ushering in the end of the world. After all, could the Aztec gods do worse? Good men go to jail, women are trafficked and sold, and the only people who seem to get ahead are corrupt. The world has, in effect, already ended, and its inhabitants are willing to believe in anything, natural or supernatural, to save them (or at least mitigate their suffering).
The Dead Run is a humorous thriller that will make you want to run out and end human trafficking. Mansbach’s sarcasm is sprinkled throughout the text, creating lifts in an otherwise dark and scary tale. While there are elements of the supernatural (zombie virgin women, the end of days, Aztec gods), they all parallel actual events that have occurred (or are occurring) along the Mexican-American border. The novel reminds us of some terrible truths. We recall the Mexican town of Juárez, the former murder capital of the world, and the unsolved femicide that demanded intervention from the UN. We see Mexico, the United States, and the seemingly endless expanse in-between, an expanse filled with the bodies of young women who will never be recovered or identified. We imagine them still sentient somewhere, their wronged and restless spirits unable to be contained by sand.
For more information, or to purchase a copy, please visit the book’s page on HarperCollins’s website.
The Dead Run
September 24, 2013
Posted: Nov 1, 2013
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