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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Wicked Weeds

Pedro Cabiya

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To purchase Wicked Weeds

Title: Wicked Weeds
Author: Pedro Cabiya
Genre: Novel
Written: 2011 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 165 pages
Original in: Spanish
Availability: Wicked Weeds - US
Malas hierbas - US
Wicked Weeds - UK
Wicked Weeds - Canada
Malas hierbas - España
from: Bookshop.org (US)
directly from: Mandel Vilar Press
  • A Zombie Novel
  • Spanish title: Malas hierbas
  • Translated by Jessica Powell

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Our Assessment:

B : the zombie-concept put to good use

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Washington Post . 2/11/2016 Everdeen Mason

  From the Reviews:
  • "There's a lot to like about zombie plots: the squirm-worthy depictions of rotting flesh and devoured brains, the escapism of a license to kill something almost human. In Wicked Weeds: A Zombie Novel, Pedro Cabiya takes these elements and adds twists, blending an intriguing dose of science, Caribbean lore and humor." - Everdeen Mason, The Washington Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The introduction to Wicked Weeds is framed as a 'Warning', explaining that the material here consists of the text-parts from a scrapbook/album collected by one of the characters, a Dr.Isadore Bellamy. The texts come in four categories, and the: "body of the volume respects and maintains the order in which they appear in the original" -- while the table of contents groups them by category. The book can be read either way, Cabiya suggests -- but also warns that there are dangers with either approach .....
       The mix of texts includes interrogation-transcripts with each of three women who worked in the same laboratory -- Isadore Bellamy, Mathilde Álvarez, and Patricia Julia Cáceres -- relating to a rather clear-cut case of murder. The central figure and subject is their boss, an: "executive vice president of the Research and Development Division of the local branch of Eli Lilly" -- and a zombie. He's well-preserved -- "If you saw me in the street you'd think I was alive" -- and takes care of himself, but he is cautious about human contact, always worried that his secret might come out. He's also far from being the only zombie -- even one of the guards at his work is, too --; he's also a regular at a "sinister tavern" where zombies get together, sharing their common misfortune.
       Part of the story involves the three women vying for attention that the zombie is in no position to give them -- making also for quite a few scenes of comic tension. Isadore is even an aficionado and collector of zombie films -- putting her boss (yet again) in a difficult position: "I, of course, had seen all of them. Her collection was quite comprehensive". Among the entertaining aspects of Wicked Weeds is its survey and analysis of zombies and zombie lore (with George A Romero's Night of the Living Dead seen as establishing: "a zombie standard that would last for decades and from which very few directors would depart").
       The novel is also about other, similar forms of outsiderdom. Set in the Dominican Republic, it also features Haitian exiles and stories, as questions of identity -- ethnic, national, and class, among others -- are prominent, with Isadore responding to one of the interrogation questions:

My passport, Detective, is the same as yours. And if you purport to be a competent police office who does his work thoroughly, you should already know that. But perhaps that's not what you really want to know, but rather my parents' birthplace, since mine, as you well know, is the same as yours. And if that's truly what you want to know, my answer remains the same: I don't see what that has to do with the investigation.
       Language figures in these issues as well -- "My command of Creole leaves much to be desired", Isadore notes at one point in providing an account from her family's past, and the pronunciation of perejil -- notoriously used by the Dominican army in 1937 to differentiate between Dominicans and Haitians -- comes up.
       When explaining their line of interrogation, one of the detectives maintains that: "Everything serves a purpose", and that goes for Cabiya's many-layered text as well With its variety of approaches and subjects, Wicked Weeds is an engaging novel, its varied presentation making for a lively read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 18 December 2023

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Wicked Weeds: Reviews: Pedro Cabiya: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Puerto Rican author Pedro Cabiya was born in 1971.

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© 2023 the complete review

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