It's getting harder to find a fresh and innovative story within the Zombie niche of the horror genre. Most of the scope for storylines has been (pun alert - you have been warned!) done to death and badly needs resurrecting. Will Dead City give new life to dieing genre or does it require, like all annoying zombies, a bullet to the brain to release us from the misery of reading it?
Eddie Hudson is a police officer in San Antonio and is the main character. The book is written in the first person from his perspective. Whilst on duty one night, he is called out to respond to some men who are fighting and look intoxicated. The background to all this is a series of hurricanes which have battered Texas over the last few weeks, and there are confusing reports from other Texan cities like Houston that people are being mindlessly attacked by others and some are even being eaten.
He drives to the scene of the intoxicated brawlers and discovers six people who don't respond when he orders them to back away from him. Being an American, he only briefly uses Mace and instead goes straight for the shotgun (remember all they have done at this point is ignored him) but the gun has no effect so he realises that something is badly amiss. He manages to get away from the advancing crowd and it dawns on him that he has been faced with a zombie outbreak. As he travels round San Antonio to both find help and get to his wife and child, the zombies seem to get bigger in number and harder to kill with a dwindling amount of ammunition for his gun. Will he survive and manage to find his wife and child, will they be ok or are they too zombies? You'll have to find out how it ends yourself!
All the way through the 288 pages I was waiting for a brilliant twist or an unexpected change in the plot's direction - it didn't come and I was left feeling very disappointed and even angry at the end of the book. The storyline only focuses on his journey around the city overnight to find his wife and is about as surprising as opening your door on Halloween to find a group of six year olds stood there expecting sweets. In fact, the book's predicatbility has annoyed me so much that I'm tempted to spoil the plot's (the word plot is very loosely applied here) ending and reveal what happens, but if I had to suffer, then someone else should too.
Man runs away from zombies, enters a building, finds more zombies, runs away, enters a building, finds more zombies and so on and so on. There, sod it, you can count that as a spoiler I suppose as there isn't anything else of much significance to tell you about.
Very rarely for me, I'm going to award just the one star for this book as to give it any more wouldn't be fair to people who are expecting a good read. As for a recommendation, if you have a wonky kitchen table that needs a leg propping up then this rather slimline paperback would probably fit the bill. I could also recommend this book to people who are in a real zombie outbreak - you won't get any useful survival tips from it but it would be useful to throw at a chasing zombie when you run out of bullets.
As I have mentioned in a previous review, Zombies seem to have become back in fashion in recent years and never has this become more apparent than in the surge of horror novels dedicated to their subject matter. DEAD CITY is the latest in a long line of Zombie novels and features not the semi-intelligent undead of BRIAN KEENE's imagination but more the classic Romero Zombie as made famous in his Dawn Of The Dead series of movies.
This time around, the pandemic arises after a series of hurricanes tear apart the Texas Gulf Coast. Survivors are airlifted out of the devastated areas but soon reports begin to be heard of the rescuers being attacked by the very people they are attempting to save. It seems a viral or bacterial agent has developed that causes the human body to literally begin to decay whilst stimulating in the victim the need and desire to consume human flesh. It is not long before the disease, spread through the exchange of bodily fluids or by being bitten by one of the undead, begins to spread out of control and before long San Antonio Police Officer, Eddie Hudson, finds himself not just fighting for his life but also trying to save his family caught up in the midst of the epidemic....
Right from the very beginning when Eddie is called out unknowingly to one of the first local cases of infection, the story starts moving at a fast pace that never once lets up for a second throughout the remainder of the novel. All sorts of questions and issues are raised about the Zombie phenomenon through the various characters that Eddie meets during one of the longest nights of his life and the action never falters as district after district of the city becomes overrun. Forget RESIDENT EVIL, this is one of the most realistic outbreaks ever imagined by a horror writer and with it's enviromental overtones and it's clever comparisons to the events that followed Hurricane Katrina, one of the scariest novels you are ever likely to read. Of course you know this is never going to happen and of course Zombies aren't real but then thats exactly what the characters in this novel are thinking before the outbreak takes hold!!!
The writing style is a little basic but that works to the novel's advantage as, at times, it is almost like watching a movie whilst following the action across the page. It is also a relatively short novel so it's not going to take you an excessive amount of time to read this. If Zombies are your bag, then you really need to pick this up!!
My only complaint is perhaps a familiar one and that is that the ending is a little too......neat. It certainly is not as bleak as BRIAN KEENE's CITY OF THE DEAD and there is more hope and optimism in this novel, but everything feels a bit too nicely tied together by the time you reach the end. Still fans of Romero will find little here to be discouraged by and if you can pick this up cheap on EBAY, then it's worth spending a couple of quid on.
Just remember, it's not real; it's only a book-- such a thing could never happen, could it.....?