My Life As A White Trash iZombie

See what I did there?

You may not, if you’re only familiar with Diana Rowland’s book series, starting with My Life as a White Trash Zombie. Or if you’re only familiar with the new show on the CW, iZombie, loosely adapted from the Vertigo comic book series, iZOMBIE.

Or, of course, you may still be clueless, but that’s okay, I’ll explain everything.

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This is the cover to the sequel, which I feel represents the series a tad better than the super-girly pink cover of book one did.

Back when I was still book blogging at Calico Reaction, I ran a book club. Every month, I’d choose a theme and members would vote on books that fit said theme. In August of 2012, the theme was Kick-Assitude, and the book club selection was Diana Rowland’s My Life As A White Trash Zombie. The super-pink cover had originally put me off when the book came out in 2011, but the premise was too good to ignore: a woman who gets turned into a zombie, survives, but has to take a job at the morgue in order to get a steady supply of brains in order to not only stay alive, but look somewhat normal. How cool is that? SUPER COOL. I had a lot of fun reading, and put the sequels on my wishlist for a day I wanted to binge.

Fast forward to now: the CW network just debuted a new show based on a Vertigo comic book series. Female-lead, zombies, humor, looked like fun. But I wanted to read a few reviews before I watched the pilot on Hulu, and here’s what I learned:

A woman gets turned into a zombie, survives, but has to take a job at the morgue in order to get a steady supply of brains in order to stay alive….

….wait, what?

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Promotional image for The CW’s iZombie. Cute, yes?

My first thought was to compare the comic series release date to Rowland’s release date. Both debuted in 2011, so one clearly didn’t copy the other***.

But further digging into the television adaptation revealed this: it’s an adaptation in name only. In the comics, our heroine is a gravedigger.

The brain boggles.

I did some more Googling, but apparently this isn’t a big deal. Sure, there are comments on various sites that talk about the show from people who have read the book and are pointing out the similarities to Rowland’s work, from people who are wondering why they didn’t just adapt her series instead. And I found brief mentions on Rowland’s Facebook that she is aware and that lawyers are involved. Unfortunately, the CW can afford more lawyers than she can.

Now, let’s make one thing clear: I’m not a lawyer and I’m not saying there’s an infringement of copyright. I’m not taking the CW’s side here, mind you. I’m referencing THIS, and it boils down to the fact that ideas can’t be copyrighted, no matter how original they are. There’s also a lot of unknowns here: whether or not Rowland’s book was seen in the writer’s room, whether or not it was obvious they were using it for “inspiration,” whether or not Rowland & Co were shopping the rights and CW was considering the rights and then passed, only to suddenly come out with this show, which on surface appears to be adapted not just from the comic book series of the same name, but also Rowland’s series.

I repeat, there are a LOT of unknowns. This may be more of a Fables vs. Once Upon a Time situation, wherein the concepts are eerily alike at first glance, but ultimately very different in execution, rather than a Gravity vs. Gravity situation, where there is a clear line between sold rights, studios, and how the movie was ultimately produced.

And let’s make another thing clear: the law is WEIRD, and things that seem OBVIOUS aren’t so obvious in court, and verdicts can be frustrating as hell.

So instead of standing on a soapbox and crying that the CW/Rob Thomas have stolen Rowland’s idea — and don’t get me wrong, the similarities, on the surface, make my stomach turn, despite the fact that the genius idea of a zombie working in a morgue is one that I think many people might land on eventually — I’m doing something else.

I’m making sure people in my small spec of the internet are aware.

I’m asking that people who like the idea of zombies working in a morgue to check out Diana Rowland’s work. Because let’s face it, there is CLEAR audience overlap between Rowland’s series and the television show. If you enjoy one, you’re likely going to enjoy the other. I haven’t seen the CW pilot yet, and I suspect I’ll hunker down and do that soon. I may change my mind about the situation: after all, I originally scoffed at the Gravity vs. Gravity situation, because I’d read the book, didn’t care for it, but adored the movie and didn’t see the similarities until they were pointed out to me, until I saw the line from rights sold to the studio to where the final film ended up.

But it just bugs me that so far, no entertainment site has picked up on the similarities. While I’m not entirely sure why I expect them to KNOW, it still irks me to no end. I admit I’m biased, and I’m Team!Rowland, even if this ends up being such a thing where there is no need for teams and both properties can co-exist peacefully and feed off of each other (pun intended) in a good way by boosting each others’ markets.

And that, besides awareness, is the ultimate point of my post. Rowland’s work is fun, so if the below premise sounds entertaining, ignore the all-too-pink cover and give it a go. And then check out the CW series, if only to nitpick the hell out of it. Or vise versa.

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So. Much. PINK! But seriously, cute cover.

Angel Crawford is a loser.

Living with her alcoholic deadbeat dad in the swamps of southern Louisiana, she’s a high school dropout with a pill habit and a criminal record who’s been fired from more crap jobs than she can count. Now on probation for a felony, it seems that Angel will never pull herself out of the downward spiral her life has taken.

That is, until the day she wakes up in the ER after overdosing on painkillers. Angel remembers being in an horrible car crash, but she doesn’t have a mark on her. To add to the weirdness, she receives an anonymous letter telling her there’s a job waiting for her at the parish morgue–and that it’s an offer she doesn’t dare refuse.

Before she knows it she’s dealing with a huge crush on a certain hunky deputy and a brand new addiction: an overpowering craving for brains. Plus, her morgue is filling up with the victims of a serial killer who decapitates his prey–just when she’s hungriest!

Angel’s going to have to grow up fast if she wants to keep this job and stay in one piece. Because if she doesn’t, she’s dead meat.

Literally.

***Edit: So thanks to some intrepid friends who did more digging than me: the Vertigo comic series, iZOMBIE, actually came out in 2010, practically a full year before Rowland’s My Life As A White Trash Zombie did. Again, I see this as a non-issue and negligible. 1) I don’t contend there’s an issue between the comic series and Rowland’s books. 2) When the comic series debuted, it’s likely Rowland’s book was already at the publisher. 3) Sentient zombies, which both properties feature, isn’t at all the issue for me. Hell, if you want to add sentient zombies, there’s Warm Bodies to throw into the mix. No, my contention is the female lead who’s a sentient zombie AND who works in a morgue in order to get brains, the latter of which isn’t in the comics from what I can tell — but it is in the television adaptation.

18 thoughts on “My Life As A White Trash iZombie

  1. I didnt realise that iZombie was so similar. I didn’t back it on Kickstarter either.

    FWIW I think I read this book back when you did the challenge and Im glad I did because it was MUCH MUCH better than the cheesy cover led you to expect or the blurb.

    I havent got around to reading the other two and I really should!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a Kickstarter? Wha…. ?

      There’s actually four books total in the series! They went back to the pink in the cover, but it’s more accent than primary.

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      1. I see four books now! Yes I think it had a kickstarter, I backed the Veronica Mars one and they talked about this project at the end of that campaign

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah, the Veronica Mars one…. gotcha. I didn’t touch that because I haven’t even seen that series yet. πŸ™‚

          OH: and I saw somewhere online that Rowland writes two series and alternates the titles every year. This year will bring us another White Trash book.

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  2. I remember your review of that! You inspired me to pick up the book and I very much enjoyed it. I’m sorry to hear about this particular issue, I’m inclined to be on TeamRowland as well. Gosh, what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall sometimes to see these negotiations.
    Which reminds me, I should definitely chase up the other books in the series.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My Life as a White Trash Zombie is one of my favorite book titles of all time. I read the book and enjoyed it, but I didn’t realize there is a sequel. The concepts of the book and iZombie seem sketchily similar, but I have a feeling that iZombie will not be a hit. I think the zombie trend is starting to get overdone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are three sequels! And yes, it’s one of the best titles ever. It’s one of the reasons I found myself drawn to the book over and over, despite the PINK!!!! cover. πŸ™‚

      I’m not sure the steam is wholly out on the zombie trend. For this angle, and for the CW’s audience, I think iZombie might hit a sweet spot, especially for people who can’t stand the level of gore on The Walking Dead. If the pilot is on Hulu Plus, I’ll watch tonight!

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      1. I looked at the comment above mine and thought, “Hey, I didn’t write that,” then realized, “Oops, another Kelly.” I can’t take the gore and scariness of The Walking Dead, but I do think I am going to look for Rowland’s other books.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I immediately thought of My Life as a White Trash Zombie, too, when I saw the preview for the new show. Another similarity that’s interesting (which also doesn’t necessarily imply infringement) is that both characters have platinum blonde hair.

    But like you said, the rules are complicated and confusing. I’ll be interested to see what, if anything, comes of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, platinum blonde hair!!! But you’re right, there’s no infringement there by any means. Weird, maybe, but imagining your zombies as washed out and completely pale in every sense of the word makes sense…. though I just watched the pilot for iZombie, and we see the zombie that attacked the heroine, and he’s not white and washed out, so…..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the White Trash series. My uncle sent the first one to my daughter for her birthday. Book five was just released and all three of use are looking to buy it.
    We also binge watched season one of iZombie on Netflix this weekend. The show did have some HUGE similarities, but aside from the morgue factor the rest could be written off as coincidence or were just different enough to not be blaring. The show was good, it was funny and had some really interesting ideas. I haven’t read the comics it is based on, and will likely pick them up soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m still only at the first book in that series. I have, however, finished watching the entire first season of the television show, and I’ve read the entire iZombie comic series from which the tv show is based. There are cute moments in the show that give nods to the comic, and I liked the first season, but despite watching the first episode of the second season, I’m not feeling a lot of pull to keep watching. I think it’s because, while the lead actress is very talented for being able to pull it off, I don’t enjoy the “mood swings” she goes through with each new brain. It makes her hard to like at times.

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  6. Unfortunately, for me, the books have started to get a bit convoluted and the dialogue a bit sophomoric. I’m sucked in to the characters, so I’ll keep reading, they are charming and fun books!

    I adore the TV series and think it’s just getting better; more layered storylines and characters. I’m invested in every one of them. I do see a good mix of the comics and the books with a dash of originality thrown in… or all original? We’ll see what the courts say.

    The comics, well, I’m not so in love with them. But I like some of the ideas they wink to in the series.

    All in all, the series is my favorite, but I’m rooting for Angel. Here’s hoping she grows up and gains some well earned confidence!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I watched the first season, but never got past the first episode of the second season. I’ll come back to the show when S2 gets on Netflix. I read the comics, which is definitely a decidedly different flavor. Still haven’t gotten around to any more of the White Trash Zombie series!

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