By Adam Lewis Schroeder, Douglas & McIntyre, 400 pages, $22.95
It's customary that with every new zombie cultural artifact's release we ask how long this trend can hold. To some, zombies jumped the shark with 2009's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but then The Walking Dead's season five premiere broke ratings records, so what did those people know? Let's instead ask what zombie books can add to the cultural fascination of our time. Adam Lewis Schroeder's All-Day Breakfast, his fourth book of fiction, reverses many walking-dead tropes. This is no zombie apocalypse: Schroeder's undead characters, including his substitute-teacher-turned-monster protagonist, are vastly outnumbered by the humans who hunt them. They are also fully sentient, crave bacon and in many ways are more alive than their former, human selves. Zombie novels are ultimately about what it means to be human – you can contemplate that with this one. It's also gory, hilarious, adventure-packed fun that will have you reading well into the night.
One Hundred Days of Rain
By Carellin Brooks, BookThug, 192 pages, $20
We've learned to distrust the sentimentalism of the pathetic fallacy. Nature does not sense our emotions; cruelly, the sky does not cry because we are sad. The premise of Carellin Brooks's debut novel toys with our learned impulse: In the prelude, our unnamed narrator has a fight with her partner; a neighbour calls the police, who lay charges; our narrator is forced to leave her home; it rains. "She is not fallacious enough to connect this with her circumstances. She confines herself strictly to the facts." Nevertheless, "She leaves. It rains." The 99 short, ruminative chapters that follow, each chapter for a day, never imply causation, but the correlation is there: One hundred days of rain in all possible variety (this is Vancouver), side by side with equally subtle shifts in mood described in sparse, poetic prose. It's heavy material but, as with poetry, rewards contemplative reading in quick breaks.
Do You Think This Is Strange?
By Aaron Cully Drake, Brindle & Glass, 272 pages, $17.95
Consider this the antidote to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Whereas Mark Haddon's 2003 novel, the most popular literary representation of autism to date, presented a barely functional savant, the 17-year-old at the heart of Aaron Cully Drake's debut is someone that the majority of autistic people might recognize. Which is not to say he is having an easy time. Prone to repetitive behaviour, confused by metaphorical language, wary of conversation, Freddy does not possess a redemptive genius for anything, unless you count fighting, which has landed him in trouble. After being expelled for knocking another boy unconscious, Freddy is sent to public school, where he encounters a long-lost friend from group therapy. Freddy is an authentically exasperating teenager. You'll want to read this coming-of-age story anyway, not least to watch Freddy solve the common mystery of why his family is as it is.