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Review: Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

in a sentence or two: the funny journey of Earl the vampire, Duke the werewolf, Loretta the overweight waitress, and Cathy the ghost in their quest to rid the diner of zombies. and as if that isn't enough, a foxy teenager is trying to open the gates to hell right underneath their immortal noses.

Duke and Earl stumble upon the little diner in rockwood county (read: middle of nowhere). within minutes, they are defending the diner from zombies. the good news is, zombies aren't really that bad - just an undead nuisance really. the bad news for them (and good news for us) is, this is just the beginning of a bizarre and hilarious journey with the undead and other creepy creatures. ultimately, the foxy teenager - Tammy by day, Mistress Lilith when sorceress-ing - is trying to bring back the 'old gods' and suck the world as we know it into eternal darkness and suffering. it's up to the undead A-squad (and Loretta) to find out what's going on with the zombies, ghouls, ghosts, and even some zombie cows, so they can save the world. which is just as hard as it sounds.

i haven't read a humor novel in a long time, and so i wasn't quite sure what to expect. my fear is that they will try too hard to be funny and then lose the ability to weave a good story. well, Martinez put my fears to rest by the end of the first chapter. this book uses the supernatural elements with a tongue-in-cheek-ness that kept it light and funny while balancing the whole 'end of the world forever' aspect. there was also a good bit of sexual tension between the teenage witch and all the male characters, between the werewolf and the pleasantly plump waitress, and between the ghost and the vampire. who knew that was possible?

this was funny, wacky, unpredictable, clever, and i couldn't put it down. it won the Alex Award in 2006, and now that i've finished the hilarious journey through the book, i totally understand why. while not written explicitly for a teenage audience in mind, Martinez is able to cross genre barriers and has crafted a bizarrely awesome story that is well worth the read.

fave quotes: "Once, Make Out Barn had been a haven of teenage activity. Wholly living up to its name, the worn out building played host to regular sessions of heavy petting and awkward groping. There were even one or two acts of genuine sex on the premises, though not nearly as many as locker room boasts might lead one to believe. The barn was a place for certain people, namely those of surging hormones and acne-induced angst, preferably in groups of two, to get away from the endless hell that teenagers perceive their life to be until they grow up and realize that real hell generally strikes around middle age, when one discovers that life is either far too short or far too long." (105) my favorite phrases are bolded - seriously, awkward groping? awesome.
"Tammy raised her hands over her head and giggled the malign giggle of a schoolgirl consorting with the legions of darkness and having a hell of a time doing it." (109)

fix er up: not a thing. i loved the story, characters, and the ending. solid read!

title: Gil's All Fright Diner
author: A. Lee Martinez
genre: Fantasy, Humor, Problem Novel

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. hmmm...i thought i wouldn't make a ridiculous, off color comment because when i have, then like eight people comment. and so i didn't, but then no one commented. i don't get how blogs work.

  2. Lisa - Have you read Anonymous Rex? This seems in a similar (forgive me) vein, though AR is about a private-eye dinosaur disguised as a human. (I know!)

  3. oh my gosh stop it - i am all over Anonymous Rex! thanks for the heads up.

  4. man this book sounds right up my alley. i'll def have to add it to my library holds list (which also has on it 'twilight' and 'whales on stilts'). SO looking forward to getting those...


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