by Kylie Brien, editor at Skyhorse Publishing
Sure, it started as a graphic novel, and is sort of . . . maybe . . . technically a book already—but the show has taken on a life of its own. The television series, created by Rob Thomas, has a completely different feel than the graphic novel series it was based on. Because of this, I tend to look at it as a separate entity. I think there are elements of the show that would translate to a young adult novel.
Here are a few stand-out elements of the show that I think would translate well into a book:
- A new twist on a tired subject.
- Zombies are the new vampires. They’re everywhere. You can find them stumbling around all kinds of literature, television, and film in search of brains to consume. Though in my experience, it’s rare to find a zombie as the protagonist. Olivia Moore, aka Liv Moore, aka a wonderfully punny name (I always appreciate a good pun) is the focus of the show that takes Zombieism to a new level. Liv was scratched by one and woke up lacking all pigment in her skin and hair and with a sudden desire to eat brains. While she shares that common trait with traditional zombies, there are things that set her apart. Though she gave up her career as a doctor and transitioned to the morgue as the medical examiner to improve her access to brains, Liv can live like a normal human being with all of her sensibilities as long as she regularly eats brains. However, without springing for the spray tan or hair dye, Liv is as pale as a ghost and hair so blonde, it’s basically white. There are some gives and takes with this lifestyle. When Liv does eat brains, she takes on the personality traits of the person’s brain she eats and gets visions of their life. This conveniently helps her help Detective Clive Babineaux solve the murders of the owners of the brains she eats.
- Excellent supporting characters:
- What makes a show featuring a snarky doctor-turned-medical examiner with a newfound desire for brains and a whole lot of sass even more captivating? A well-rounded group of friends, coworkers, and enemies to contribute something new and different. As I mentioned before, Liv works closely with a detective to help him solve murders using her unique zombie abilities. Clive is a reserved Seattle Police Detective who keeps his personal life to himself—though that doesn’t stop Liv from trying to uncover details about his life (like his obsession with Game of Thrones). Clive also has a dark past though his relationship with Liv gives him an opportunity to let loose from time to time. They’re complete opposites but somehow make a comical and oddly compatible pair. Liv’s boss, Ravi is to Liv what Giles was to Buffy. . . sort of. Like I said before, iZombie is a new take on things. Ravi is a version of Giles with a whole lot more sass and a love of all things nerdy. He makes an excellent person for Liv to confide in and remind her that she still has friends. When it comes to villains, I love complicated ones with intricate plans that keep them at least two steps ahead of the protagonist. Blaine is that villain for iZombie. Full of snark and street-smarts, Blaine is a villain determined to profit from this zombie outbreak and Liv has resolved to stop him. The pair get in each other’s way constantly and it’s always hilarious when they do.
- Mystery with unconventional outcomes:
- Each episode features a new mystery. Liv uses her zombie abilities to get into the heads of the victims. By eating their brains, she’s able to understand who they were and has visions triggered by sound, scent, or even touch that help her solve the case. This combined with Clive’s interrogation skills and logic lead to a solved case at the end of almost every episode. The murder is almost always someone you wouldn’t expect. Yet, when the truth finally comes out, you’re amazed at how all of the evidence points to that person even though you never saw it coming. I love that each case solved takes me by surprise and makes me think. While each episode features a murder that Liv helps solve BUT each season also features an overarching mystery. Even if the episodic case isn’t related to the bigger picture, each episode unravels some detail that helps solve the grand mystery. Despite all of the clues, you never see it coming!
- Honorable mention: the culinary masterpieces Liv makes to make eating brains more appealing.
- It would be hard to directly translate this to a book since it’s such a visual part of the show, but I appreciate the effort that goes into this small detail of Liv’s lifestyle. It’s gotten more artistic as we’ve gotten into the second season, but whenever Liv has to consume a brain, she doesn’t just pick it up, apple-style and take a bite. She puts some effort into making a gourmet masterpiece out of the brain. Brain tacos, brain parmesan, brain shakes, and spaghetti and brains. It’s such a well-done show quirk and I’d love to see something that unique in a book!