Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Apocalypse of the Dead and Driving to Damnation: A Book Review

*A review copy of Apocalypse of the Dead was graciously provided by author Joe McKinney for review.

Author: Joe McKinney.

There is a running joke here at of reviewing the sequels of books and then, this reviewer goes back to look at the original. This strange trend continues. This zombie lover read the bibliography on author Joe McKinney's website and there, this title was listed first, Apocalypse of the Dead. However, Apocalypse of the Dead is, of course, the second book in a series, which is led by Dead City. McKinney will follow-up these two novels with Flesheaters releasing in April, 2011 and Zombie King in 2012. This is an epic zombie novel series, with Apocalypse of the Dead introducing a large, diverse group of characters. The connections between these survivors become more obvious as the zombie plague, spreading across the United States, corals everyone into a Jim Jones, cult-like situation. Hard to put down, Apocalypse of the Dead keeps you gnawing at the pages, late into the night with moanings on zombie philosophy.

This is a 500 page novel; so, addressing the plot with any merit, or depth in a short review is a mostly futile endeavour. On the surface, Apocalypse of the Dead involves several plague survivors fighting against the dead throughout the United States. On a deeper level, this novel acts as a warning to the dysfunction of following a crowd, while the promise of salvation acts as the needle in a hurricane. A self-imploding cult acts as a beacon drawing characters Ed (the ex-officer), Ben (the reporter), Barnes (the pilot), Jeff (the debtor), Colin (the broken), Kyra (the blind), Nate (the desperate), Billy (the ex-con), Margaret (the grandmother), Robin (the pornstar), and Sandra (the survivor) to salvation, or damnation like a desperate moth to a flame.

Just getting to this central point requires driving through the millions of the infected. Streaming out of Florida and Texas, a boatload of refugees, hoping to escape a quarantined area, move an infection from an enclosed and walled-up San Antonio to surrounding areas. Not long thereafter, the undead are causing riots in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and every other major metropolitan area, as the virus spreads through bites, and sexual contact. North Dakota offers salvation, but even here, evils lurks. Where is the hope?

Apocalypse of the Dead is truly an epic novel, as the stalwart hero, Ed, fights against unspeakable odds. Ed is an aged member of a senior's community, who does his best to protect the blind, and others with various health conditions. His six-shooters turn the hordes into gory masses, while this seventy year old man does his best and betters men half his age in dire situations. Triumphant into the end, Ed shows that hero's are still worthy of being mentioned in literature and that a senior can win the hearts of readers.

The action within this novel involving Ed and other characters is intense and really, there is only one brief pause in the pacing, which occurs just before the final harrowing climax. Characters are often doing their best to outwit escaped convicts on their way to the conclusion, or stage one, stage two, and stage three zombies(the undead are classified by the time they have been infected for). There is very little downtime in this book. This exciting pace is welcomed and often enthralling, as Ed squares off against an insane cult leader in the "bread basket" (McKinney) of America. The results are devastating to the character base of the book.

One final note, on Joe McKinney's latest is required. Few zombie styled novels will tackle philosophy, but here McKinney talks about nihilism, the meaning(less) of life and even Buddhist teachings like samsara (disgust). The use of philosophy seems to bring some deeper structure to the close of the book and there is challenging material here for those searching for more than the confines of a zombie apocalypse.

Available for several months now, Apocalypse of the Dead is an epic and satisfying read. This reviewer recommends that you begin with McKinney's first novel, Dead City (do not make the mistake this book reviewer made), which sets up this second in the series. Then, step into this novel, which turns the United States and the imagination into darker, foreboding territory. Apocalypse of the Dead is not to be missed!

Overall: 8.5 out of 10 (lots of material here, thrilling, and believable).

Read a second review on this title from Scott Shoyer at Anything Horror:

Apocalypse of the Dead at Anything Horror

Visit Joe McKinney's website for updates on his upcoming novels Flesheaters and King Zombie:

Joe McKinney's Bibliography

Available for under $5? Are you kidding me? Buy this:

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