As it has been awhile since I posted, here are 3 book reviews. Vampiric worms, other dimensional zombies and good old science messing with Mother Nature abound in 3 different takes on killer plagues.
The Gist: Sentenced to the death penalty, serial killer Homer Gibbon has been given the lethal dose that will end his life but unbeknownst to nearly everyone, a prison doctor with a troubled past has added his own experimental ingredient to the deadly dose. The added punishment goes horribly awry when the killer is shipped back to his home county for burial and it becomes very clear, very quickly that he is not dead and has become a new kind of killer infected with and spreading a deadly virus that will destroy one community and if not contained, infect the world.
My Take: This book was given to me as part of a Reddit gift exchange for books and I’m glad it was a gift because it was somewhat of a disappointment. I like zombies. I like Jonathan Maberry but there was something about this tale of Officer Desdemona Fox and her former lover Billy Trout battling masses of zombies that didn’t click with me. I enjoy the way Maberry describes the scenes of the horror unfolding as the outbreak takes over more and more of the town and even the origin of the virus had merit (sort of), however two of the main characters (Fox and Trout) fell flat. It’s not their relationship or their interactions, it’s the characters themselves. The way they talk and the actions they take sometimes feel too cliché and they just aren’t interesting enough, nor is their messed up relationship, to be likable.
Final Thoughts: This wasn’t a terrible book by any means. Maberry describes death and destruction very well however, the characters are lacking likability and I found it hard to care about their story. Sorry Mr. Maberry, this one just didn’t thrill me like Patient Zero and The Dragon Factory (and I’m such a literary talent to be passing judgement, not really). One other note, one of the characters in the story is named Kealan Patrick Burke, an Irish writer that falls victim to the zombies. For those that don’t know, Mr. Burke is a real life writer and you should check out his work. Brilliant!
The Gist: Five pre-teen boys and their Scoutmaster journey to an isolated island off the coast of Prince Edward Island for one last scout outing. As night closes over the island, an unexpected guest arrives and the lives of the boys will be irreparably altered as they become trapped on the island with no hope of escape or rescue and are left to face death, disease and human depravity alone.
My Take: There has been a lot buzz and good hype around this book and the opening 3 or 4 chapters are engaging and interesting. Somewhere along the way it started to dip down in that engagement but I didn’t totally lose interest; it could just be my preference for less gore and more story. The boys are made up of stereotypes and the Scoutmaster even points this out as he is ruminating on who they are and who they are becoming as teenagers. I just panned ‘Dead of Night’ for clichéd characters and here it is again in ‘The Troop’ but in this book, it didn’t bother me. I still didn’t care about the characters with the exception of Ephraim (also the name of the main character in The Strain trilogy) but maybe I was just distracted by the slimy, bloody nature of the book for it to really bother me.
Final Thoughts: This book has been called a mix between Lord of the Flies and 28 Days Later (more Lord of Flies), which is a fair comparison as a group of boys must survive alone on an isolated island. The gore is described in such a way that it made me cringe from the grossness and creepiness of being able to fully visualize what Cutter is saying. I didn’t like the descriptions of the animal cruelty (I know it’s not real) and the killer worms and one of the main characters being named Eph strongly reminds of The Strain (by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, also now a TV show; book is better than the show thus far). To sum it up: good book , heavy on the ick factor with cringe worthy, gory descriptions of mutilation and horror.
The Gist: Tucked deep in the Appalachian Mountains lays a secret facility where scientists have been trying to punch a hole from our world into an alternate one. They have finally succeeded, however with the awe of seeing this world similar to our own they have also unwittingly opened the door for a terrible and devastating virus to stumble through, leaving the two realities to collide with deadly consequences.
My Take: I really, really liked this book. Out of the three books here, this is the best and the type of apocalyptic story I have been looking for. I don’t know if it was a quick moving story or if I just read it fast but it kept me interested and I had a hard time putting it down because I wanted to know what happened next. Opening a portal into an alternate Earth where there is another version of yourself sounds cool. Opening a portal into alternate Earth that has been eradicated by a zombie virus that is still transmissible is not so cool but it makes for a hell of a story. I like the idea that the zombie virus comes from another dimension and that there is depth and some explanation to the origins and the spread. The glimpse into the other worlds was also enjoyable and there is so much potential to develop stories around the other Earth.
Final Thoughts: It’s been awhile since I’ve been this drawn into a book and finished it so fast. The pacing was good, the characters kept me interested and the story was an engaging zombie tale. My only real issue with this book is that the editing was lacking in spots. There was one sentence that didn’t make sense because the wrong words were used and it was jumbled, like someone meant to take out a couple of words and replace them but didn’t take the unwanted words out first. Also, here and there the wrong word was used due to typos (then instead of them) little things like that. Otherwise, this a good read and I highly recommend it.