This is a novel that brings a fresh perspective on the whole Revelation theme. It’s not all unique, but Andre Duza has let his imagination go and also done a credible job at holding the novel’s structure together while allowing for many of the more standard elements of the novel—characters, background, plot—to develop naturally. Duza is a skillful writer even if this is Bizarro fiction.
First, Duza defines Jesus Freaks as zombies. Oh no, not another zombie novel! Actually, this one is interesting because of the quasi-religious questions it suggests.
What would precede the return of Jesus to the world? Why, an infestation of zombies, right? In this world of destruction and carnage the unifying forces of government have broken down (or have been eaten) and Jesus comes to bring order and peace. Now Jesus is the blond nordic type and quickly aligns with a televangelist out of Texas. The problem is that up in Philadelphia there is another Jesus, but in this case short, disheveled, and quit dark going by the name Yeshua. We learn that Yeshua is the actually the real Jesus but when Pontius Pilot saw a future for this Messiah gig, he put his own son, Augustus, up to assume the role of the soon-to-be-crucified Jesus of Nazareth.
Who moved the stone? Maybe no one. Maybe the risen Jesus was just a cleaned-up stand-in and, with the help of another interloper, Paul, the Christian church was born and became quite popular up until the zombies.
If you go back and re-read Revelation, you might notice that all the terrors described for the end of the world are somewhat dated and probably not scary enough for a decent B-movie. Science and technology have given us far greater terrors to worry about. Still, dead people being reanimated seems in line with the apocalyptic visions of a simple, primitive people who lived a couple of centuries back: So why not zombies?
It’s funny how I accept all this zombie lore but my one problem with Jesus Freaks was that both of the Jesus figures were apparently imbued with great powers. I kept wanting them to just be men, men with Messianic delusions, but they kept surprising me with their super-powers.
One thing to note is that the author of Jesus Freaks is African-American and at times this allows him to develop some aspects of his text in a less-well-traveled direction … I loved it. Jesus Freaks was perhaps a bit too long but I’m still intending to read Duza’s novel Dead Bitch Army.
As I have oft repeated, try some Bizarro fiction: it’s very imaginative even when going overboard with the gooier parts of life, and if you’ve still got some room for zombies in your reading list, give Andre Duza a try: he’s pretty good.