Sunday, March 13, 2011

Autumn: The City and Taking Chances : A Book Review

Author: David Moody.

Autumn: The City is the second novel in a trilogy. Autumn was published first and a review of this title on 28DLA has been published here (Autumn Book Review). The third book in this series is titled Autumn: Purification. All three books follow familiar characters through a zombie apocalyptic landscape. Autumn: The City was first published by St. Martin's Griffin February 1, 2011 and this is a novel that introduces several more survivors into this disease ridden setting - somewhere unnamed, in England. Characters Michael and Emma from Autumn make an appearance, but their presence is mostly secondary. Author David Moody focuses on a group of survivors in a university complex, in his usual thrilling style.

Donna is alone in an office complex, when her co-workers collapsed from the spread of an invisible disease. She locks them in a storage room and through her wits, she sets up lanterns to attract other survivors. Paul comes looking. On the other side of the city, Jack meets up with a young girl, named Clare. He has seen some greyish looking neighbours, while Clare has lost her father. All four meet up at a local university, where Nathan, Bernard and over thirty others are hiding from thousands of re-animated automatons. Enter in Cooper, an ex-soldier and you have a complex mix of characters.

This situation is further complicated by a world where corpses litter the streets - the result of an airborne bacteria or agent. Events become strange when the corpses begin to move and shamble, like something out of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. Except these automatons are a little more bloodthirsty. They set their glossy sights on the university. But, Cooper knows of another and safer location, an underground military bunker.

At this second location, several dozens of soldiers lay in protection, knowing that an attack would occur on the surface. Whether the source of the disease is internally staged or externally source, is never realized. Protected by the disease raging above ground, the military stays mostly off-stage until the final converging climax. This is a conclusion that involves thousands of the shambling dead, an attacked convoy to the bunker, and the joining up of Michael and Emma with this second and larger group of survivors.

Moody has really created a much more tense atmosphere in Autumn: The City, compared to his first novel, Autumn. The excitement takes some time to build (by about page 50-54). In the meantime, characterizations are being explored in a novel landscape, an English countryside more bleak than 1348 (Black Plague), 1485 (English Sweate), and 1665 (Bubonic Plague). This is a world where the disease is only beginning in those killed by the infection. Those immune have an uphill battle to make their way to the military stronghold, while immature characters attempt to antagonize the group's movements and unity e.g. Nathan.

One of the most interesting elements in this novel is the interweaving of the many characters. First, Donna, Paul, Jack, Clare and others are like loose strings, but the events and Moody's writings are ever meshing the characters together. Except this tapestry is constantly being threatened to be torn apart, by the hands of the dead.

The climax is very exciting and the gathering of so many characters together in a dangerous environment leads to a tragic outcome for many. As well, this reader was pleasantly surprised by the final few chapters, as Autumn: The City promises some hope and a continuation between this novel and the upcoming Autumn: Purification. The ending leaves few behind.

As a short aside, the only criticisms in this work include the inclusion of a few comma splices and the brief intro', which seems to be finding its legs in a sea of corpses. Finally, the numbers of undead, in the countryside, seemed a little strange. Most of the corpses had gravitated to the city, in hope of confrontation. However with millions of infected and a third re-animated, a little imagination will get readers through the final chapters, in a horrifying fashion.

Pick this novel up, if you are a fan of zombie fiction, or dramatic thrillers. Then, prepare for Moody to close out this trilogy with an exciting flourish in Autumn: Purification. This third novel will release August 16th, again through St. Martin's Griffin. So, gather your courage, turn the lights down low and let the wind's screams put you in the heart of your deepest fears, with Autumn: The City, now!

Overall: 8 out of 10 (David Moody, Joe McKinley, and Todd Sprague are currently the leaders in zombie fiction).

Visit David Moody's website for a more in-depth look at his upcoming novel, Autumn: Purification:

David Moody's Official Website

Another excellent review of this title is listed below, by Amy Gwiazdowski at Book Reporter:

Autumn: The City Reviewed at Book Reporter

Purchase, or pre-order the entire series, through Amazon:

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