Thursday, November 10, 2011

Autumn: Disintegration and Keeping Your Head Above the Tide of Undead: A Book Review

*full disclosure: a paperback copy of this novel was provided by Thomas Dunne.

Author: David Moody.

Publisher: Thomas Dunne.

United Kingdom author David Moody has had success publishing about the coming apocalypse since the mid-1990s and into the early 21st Century. His first novel Autumn was published online, which led to thousands of downloads. Autumn: The City and Autumn: Purification were to come and these first three novels completed a trilogy. The latest novel in the Autumn series is Autumn: Disintegration and this novel was completed in 2006 before being picked up by publishers Thomas Dunne in 2007. This novel has ridden a long road before finding a paperback release November 22nd, 2011. The wait was well worth it.

Autumn: Disintegration is a stand alone novel set in the Autumn universe. This novel parallels action from Autumn: Purification, but these are all new characters. The plot in this story follows a group in a fortified urban setting 40 days after a worldwide infection has caused the death of billions. Some of those dead return to the living. Now, this small group must counter the undead horde at their doorstep. Just as dangerous is an infection carried by the corpses, which forces these survivors on the road while they are still strong enough to travel.

Gordon, Webb, Driver and others find another settlement near a small town where a group of survivors have learned to survive by remaining vigilant and very quiet. Unable to gather supplies, they are near starvation until the new group arrives. And here the conflict emerges between these two tribes as both have differing strategies on how to survive in this apocalyptic world.

And there is a diverse set of characters in Moody's Autumn: Disintegration. Webb is a lout who acts first and thinks later. His actions allow the undead into two different safe zones. Also, Driver is a mysterious character who has his own plans on how to survive these difficult times. Sean is part of the quieter group but his personality leads him into more and more dangerous situations. Others like Hollis, Harte and Gordon are just doing their best to survive in a dire situation, which plants this novel squarely in the genre of survivalist fiction.

In such a tense atmosphere, the tone of the novel is one of excitement as Moody recaptures some of the magic from his earlier novel Autumn: The City while adding something new e.g. strategies to distract the undead. Both novels deal with large amounts of the undead in confining situations. Also, living at a resort surrounded by thousands of corpses keeps the tension high, while the infighting between the characters creates further complications. Death is around every corner, but these characters cannot unify in purpose because of their different take on this hostile environment. As well, Moody seems to be critiquing some parts of society who would rather do nothing than do what is necessary. A recurring theme of lethargy versus kinetic or forward movement is interwoven into the narrative seamlessly. Those unwilling to fight or help in any way could be representation of certain members of the United Kingdom society, but this is hypothesizing on the part of this reader.

Only a few critiques paralyze some of this novel's success. Although this is fiction, corpses become more intelligent despite a lack of oxygen supply to the brain. As well, these flesheaters are able to move fifty days after their blood has stopped pumping and readers might ask themselves: how is this possible? Also, the amount of living dead in semi-rural environments is astronomical. There are simply too many corpses in the countryside to be believed. However, Moody is using both of these plot devices for affect. The corpses' mobility and numbers keeps the tension at a high level. Without them there would be a less satisfying story.

The novel reviewed here was an "advance uncorrected proof," but zombie or undead fiction fans can find their edited copy on store shelves November 22nd and this book fan would recommend that you find it, as long as you are a zombie fiction fan. Minor problems of believability do not hamper the frenetic page turning and this reviewer looks forward to Moody's Autumn: Aftermath, the final novel in the Autumn series, which releases in 2012. Pick this horrifying novel up wherever you can find it for a trip through a sea of undead.

Overall: 8 out of 10 (great tension, action oriented, good interaction between characters, there seems to be a misanthropic vibe on some level, great conclusion).

Autumn: Disintegration at Thomas Dunne (synopsis):

Autumn: Disintegration at Thomas Dunne

The novel at David Moody's homepage can be found below. Also, a free story involving the character Webb can be found exclusively at Moody's site:

Autumn: Disintegration at David Moody' Site

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