Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Autumn: Aftermath and the End of a Journey: A Book Review

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*full disclosure: a paperback copy of this novel was provided by St. Martin's Griffin.

Author: David Moody.

Publishers: St. Martin's Griffin.

United Kingdom author David Moody's journey through the Autumn novels has been a long one. It has been at least 10 years since Moody wrote his first novel, Autumn. This first novel dealt primarily with the characters Emma and Michael who both appear in this fifth novel, Autumn: Aftermath. Many other characters appear in this latest novel, which released March 13th. The culmination of 10 years in a zombie apocalypse, understandably, comes to violent head with two factions around Cormansey and Chadwick vying for their own space. Philosophies come into conflict too and so do characters, despite a dangerous environment.

Fans of this series of novels will recognize Michael. He is one of many survivors who are immune to an airborne infection that has wiped out 99% of the United Kingdom population. Those instantly killed rose from the dead to terrorize those still living. The undead became more cognizant as they looked to infect those few surviving. And Michael began the series of novels on his own until meeting Emma and Carl. They founnd temporary refuge in a nearby cottage, until the undead come knocking. That was four novels ago.

At the beginning of Autumn: Aftermath, there are three groups of survivors: one on the island of Cormansey, another in a castle near Chadwick and a final group at the Bromwell Hotel. All three of these groups come into contact by the end of the novel. And this final novel in the series also introduces a few new characters including Jackson. He brings the group at the castle together, while Jaz threatens to break up the group. Jaz is on a destructive path after the loss of his family and Jackson is one of the targets of his rage.

Jaz is really the antagonist in the group. Michael, Richard, Driver, Lorna and a few others act as protagonists. The undead also offer destruction. But after several months of infection, they can hardly stand. Therefore, the conflict comes from each of the characters, with a local island offering sanctuary for all of the survivors.

And there are a lot of survivors! Some readers might need a chart to keep track of them all. There are at least twenty to thirty characters. Obviously many of them are minor characters. The major characters have been named and it is easy to forget who is who especially with so many character names beginning with the letter h such as: Harte, Hollis, Harry, and Howard. Perhaps, the zombie hordes could have parsed down the character list a little, no?

Yet, this novel is a fast read. This is also a light read. With so many characters, the plot needs to be simple. So, only a few subplots develop including: a looming birth in a virulent atmosphere, how to gather supplies and how to organize the survivors. There really is no room for anything else or this novel would have been much larger than its 388 pages. However, plot points do not seem to be the novel's strongest element.

Fans of zombie fiction will find lots of excitement here. There is a good deal of action as the flesheaters threaten survivors. There is tension as leadership of one group comes into question. There is also a great finale involving a storm, the antagonist and escape from the undead mob. So, fans of this genre will find lots to fear and a little hope here too.

This latest novel released earlier this month and this zombie fiction fan would recommend that you pick this novel up. Moody manages to tie any of the loose ends from previous novels in this final entry. The ending could have involved a little more tragedy, especially with so many characters about. However, this novel was read in under a few days, so that should give other readers some understanding as to the quality of the novel. After all, this reader has followed this series of novels since the beginning and it is hard to put down a novel that has invested so much into the characters and into the Autumn environment. Saying good-bye to such a great series might be the hardest thing to do.

Overall: 7.25 out of 10 (a light read, some tension, lots of characters, the climax was a little disappointing, the zombies are way out on the periphery in this novel, loose ends from previous novels are tied up).

More reviews from the Autumn series can be found below:

Autumn: The City Reviewed Here (The Best Book in the Series)

Autumn: Purification Reviewed Here

Autumn: Disingtegration Reviewed Here

Other material for this series of novels can be found at David Moody's website:

The Author's Website is Here

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