Sunday, April 29, 2012

Surviving The Killing Floor: A Book Review

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

Writer: Craig DiLouie.

Craig DiLouie's The Killing Floor is a sequel to his earlier novel, The Infection. This latest showing was released April 9th by Permuted Press, withThe Infection released late in 2011. This reviewer has read both books. The transition from the first novel into this second outing is fairly seamless. The recurrence of characters such as Anne, Ray, Todd and a few others brought back memories of The Infection quickly. Unfortunately, some of the characters will not find themselves in the final chapters of this 278 page thriller.

And this really is an exciting novel. The American Army does their best to fight off and win against an infection. That infection created 'the scream' with about a 1/5 of the world's population falling asleep temporarily. They awaken murderous. They are also looking to spread the germ in their bloodstream to others. One of those infected is Ray and he is central to this story.

Ray is a survivor. In the previous novel, he helped thwart an attack on a bridge just outside of Pittsburgh. The infected attacked in all forms: monstrous beasts, hoppers, and zombies (basically). Ray is infected by one of the hoppers; yet, he does not breed another hopper. Instead, he is a new Typhoid Mary. He carries the infection around, sometimes unknowingly, infecting others not exposed to the virus. He is the bane of American Army who are now seeking him out.

One of those seekers is Anne. She was also in the previous novel, as well. Here she is embittered. After losing her family to the infection, she wants to kill anything associated with the disease. This includes Ray. Several near misses keep Ray on the road and Anne in pursuit.

One other character is worth mentioning. Dr. Price starts this novel as a presidential advisor. He is one of the few evacuated from the White House. He is important to the American Army because of his background. He is a scientist familiar with bacteria and disease vectors. He knows how diseases are spread and he also knows that Ray is the key to infection.

There are a few other new characters (Cool Rodd), but The Killing Floor is essentially a post-apocalyptic thriller. To this reader, elements of this genre include a world in chaos, potential death at every corner and the inclusion of violent confrontations. All three of these elements are here. DiLouie keeps the tone lively as dangers loom. Early in the novel, an entire squad is wiped out fighting the infected in an apartment building. The world is on the run with Camp Defiance, a hub for survivors, falling to the infection. DiLouie's world is in constant turmoil. And this style of genre and writing made the novel a delight for this reviewer.

There are one or two drawbacks within The Killing Floor, of course. The narration style is broken up amongst nine to ten characters. This style of storytelling takes some getting used to. Perhaps the character's stories could have been reduced by half to create for more focus. The finale is a little drawn out with one nameless character surviving for a little too long. More breadth in the climax could have helped the believability of the action.

These are minor criticisms and The Killing Floor is a solid novel with many exciting scenarios to keep zombie fiction fans or post-apocalyptic fans happy. Those who are a fan of DiLouie can expect a third novel in this series. This reader would have liked to have seen events wrapped up here. But, a road trip with an armed militia in the middle of infection is almost always a great time. And travelling with Craig DiLouie's was full of tension and thrills.

Overall: 7 out of 10 (tense situations, the narration style weakens the core story, the climax is extended slightly, interesting characters).

More on this novel is available at Craig DiLouie's website:

The Killing Floor Homepage

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