Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Autumn and Stumbling Though an Undead Apocalypse: A Book Review

*Full disclosure: a novel version of the book was provided by David Moody for review.

Author: David Moody.

Autumn is writer David Moody's second book written, with Straight to You his first. Autumn was available online in 2001 and this format led to the novel being downloaded over a half million times (Moody). This zombie styled book has infected other pages. Currently, Autumn: The City is the sequel to this book and Autumn: Purification closed out the trilogy. The undead hordes spread with a companion novel titled Autumn: The Human Condition and two more novels are being written as part of this post-apocalyptic series. Autumn was made into a poor movie by Steven Rumbelow ("Beyond") in 2009 and this novel, while slow, develops an evolutionary arc for the re-animated masses.

An unknown source causes a virulent pandemic, with: "more than 99% of the population of the planet [being] killed in less than 24 hours" (Moody). The infection swells the throat making breathing impossible and those immune must deal with a mass of bodies risen from beyond the grave. This transformation from death, to lumbering body, then to curious corpse and later to frenetic attacking zombie takes place over the course of several days, or weeks. In the meantime, Carl, Emma, and Michael find refuge in the English countryside. But, how will three hold off thousands?

This is the central question that Moody poses. However, this novel takes a long time to find this main purpose. Meanwhile, dozens of chapters are used to set up upcoming novels, or develop some strangely behaving characters. Would you step into a thousand lumbering corpses to turn on a noisy generator (noise attracts the undead)? The author is sure to curse this book reviewer under his breath, but much of the middle section of the book is really uninteresting. Little action occurs and a potential love triangle never develops between the main characters. The conflict that could have developed between the three central characters is a missed opportunity. Instead, Autumn seems to stumble much like the bleary eyed antagonists to an intensifying conclusion. Here, Moody and his novel find their legs again.

By this time, Emma, Carl and Michael have fortified their haven in the woods, with barbed wire, fence posts and such. Their solitary ventures into the surrounding shops becomes ever more eventful. Now, the recently dead have found their sense of hearing and eye-sight. And instead of moving on, these disfigured figures move into the protagonists abode, with a kill or be killed mentality.

The climax left this reader wanting more, but the journey to the ending will leave many behind. The initial hook of the book is only sharp for the first two chapters giving readers plenty of time to wriggle away. Moody's publishers, Golancz, are already cursing this writer; however, Autumn really required more action in the middle chapters, or compelling characterizations. Identifying with characters on the run from unimaginable terrors is what brings the chills for zombie genre readers, no?

Golancz has released this novel as of October 28th, 2010 (Walker) and the download for the novel is no longer available. This book is definitely recommendable and early in his career, Moody partially stumbles just as the living dead do. The ending makes up for any slow lumbering, however. Autumn is a solid, slightly shuffling first step into an interesting shadowy zombie filled door.

*Of note, Moody never uses the z (zombie) word in the novel (Walker).

Overall: 6.75 out of 10 (due to reasons mentioned above).

This book and others can be ordered at Moody's official website found here:

The Autumn Series' Official Website

Another book review of this title has been written by Mark Chitty:

Autumn at Walker of Worlds

The Autumn trilogy is also available on Amazon:

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