Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Undead Situation and Betting on a Sociopath to Survive: A Book Review

*full disclosure: an e-book of this novel was provided by Permuted Press.

Author: Eloise J. Knapp.

The Undead Situation was originally slated for publishing in late 2010; however, an audiobook was contracted and this first novel from Eloise J. Knapp was held back until August, 2011. Knapp's novel of the looming zombie apocalypse focuses on damaged characters who cope with the stress of looming death in varying ways. Cyrus V. Sinclair is the protagonist of the novel, but he is also a sociopath. Therefore, events do not develop in a heroic fashion. Instead characters have to fend against the undead hordes while watching their own back whether in a group or not. You never know when Sinclair is going to go off the rails.

And this is a story that centrally follows Sinclair. The novel begins with Cyrus and his albino ferret named Pickle. This gun nut passes the time with MREs and reminiscings of killing his first victim at fourteen. The pacing improves when the character Gabe is introduced, an armed teenager on the run from a local gang. Sinclair tortures her in the beginning, but his position softens over time. Soon, this duo are on the road in search of Frank, Sinclair's mentor. A fourth party named Blaze enters the picture and soon this quartet are facing looters, a maniacal granny and escaped convicts. Inertwined in the latter action packed pages is a believable romance that is realized too late.

Author Knapp knows how to keep a story moving forward despite the hamperings of a first person narrative. The novel moves from scenario to scenario in an appropriately urgent fashion and there are only a couple of necessary slow down points for readers to catch their breaths. As well, the story is interesting. Set in Washington State, the characters' reactions to events are believable and the setting of a zombie apocalypse has many avenues to explore. The interactions between characters can be surprising with Sinclair behaving like a maniac early and an empathetic individual later. There are character arcs and Knapp even introduces some moral ambiguity by asking: who would survive in a zombie apocalypse? You may or may not agree with her answer.

The Undead Situation is surprisingly well written for a first novel. Full of exciting situations, this novel is for those who are fans of mature zombie fiction. Truly remarkable, this novel is definitely recommended and while the protagonist, as a sociopath, is a strange choice, his transformation through experience gives the ending a little more heart. Check out this novel in paperback, e-book or audiobook formats for several nights of frantic and enjoyable reading.

Overall: 8 out of 10 (well written, interesting but flawed characters, suitable pacing, a couple of loose ends but enjoyable overall).

More on this title is available at Permuted Press:

The Undead Situation at Permuted Press

This review was influenced by Zombies Drule:

The Undead Situation Reviewed by Zombies Drule

The above photo (zombie in car) was taken from Eloise J. Knapp's website which can be found here:

Eloise J. Knapp's Official Website

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