Review of Christopher L. Eger’s “Last Stand on Zombie Island”
Last Stand On Zombie Island briefly provides the reader with an understanding of the virus that causes the zombie apocalypse when it touches down in Los Angeles and rapidly spreads from there, in the first chapter, though this is just a very brief introduction to the inevitable tale any fan of apocalyptic fiction knows extremely well. The author shifts gears in chapter two and from there on out we are focused on Gulf Shores, Alabama, where we are introduced to Billy, a fishing boat captain, as well as the rest of the residents of this popular tourist destination.
The island setting is thrust into the zombie apocalypse with the arrival of the virus through several different sources, including several children who were infected elsewhere and have returned to their schools on the island. In the meantime, there is rumor that the world is either at war or on the brink of it, with nuclear weapons supposedly being launched across the globe while infection rages everywhere. Things break down rapidly on the island too, with Billy desperately scrambling to find his teenage daughter and younger son at their schools while the small army presence and police force try to hold things together, though they face a daunting, uphill battle against a growing number of the infected revealing themselves on the island as well as those looking to charge cross the one still standing bridge from the mainland. At the same time, the reader is also introduced to the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Fishhawk, which joins in the effort to save the island as the world around it crumbles.
Last Stand On Zombie Island does not bring anything new to the table with the undead, which is, as I have said in my past reviews, fine by me. These are traditional Romero zombies for the most part, though it is of note that in addition to their lust for flesh, there are hints at other basic lusts on their part as well, though this is only minimally detailed here and isn’t a factor in the story. We are treated to an ensemble cast, with Billy loosely playing the role of the main character, though the spotlight is shared by several others as well, predominantly military personnel. They are leaders from the army, coast guard, and air force who have come together in their efforts to keep the undead across the bridge and to find other survivor outposts in the surrounding communities and elsewhere. The characters are well detailed and it was easy for me to accept them as genuine. And while there is plenty of action and zombie gore, the characters and their stories are the primary focus here.
What sets this story apart from most other zombie apocalypse sagas is the depth of technical detail with which the author provides us with in regards to the military and virtually every other aspect of survival and experimentation done by the island dwellers in their efforts to not only to stay alive but to thrive under duress. Most importantly, the author did this without bogging the reader down in the minutia that some writers seem quite fond of when they describe weapons, tactics, and combat scenarios in particular. The author never resorts to providing us with laundry list of weapons or regales us with microscopic details that distract from the human element of the saga.
Overall, this book is a solid entry into the zombie subgenre, in particular because of its depth of detail that enhanced, rather than distracted from main story. Things do drag in the middle section of the book, when the initial shock and awe of the zombie onslaught has passed and everyone is doing their best to make due on an island cut off from the mainland while small expeditions are mounted to see if there are other survivors elsewhere. The tale is looser and slower moving at this point, building toward the inevitable storm that is coming, and allows for more character development. It also reveals what is perhaps my only area of significant criticism with this tale, and that is that there is little in the way of human antagonists to be found on its pages. There are a couple of shady characters, but they play a minor role at best in the overall story and add little in the way of conflict into the plot. I guess I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for human weakness and frailties causing even more mayhem than a zombie could possibly dream of creating.
While I would have liked to have seen the pot stirred up a bit with more human machinations, this is a very solid entry into the zombie subgenre that gives us a realistic scenario and tactics that might be used under such dire circumstances. It seems clear from how things end and the fact that there were a few loose ends not tied up by the story’s completion that a sequel is likely in the works, though this book most assuredly can stand on its own. Well thought out with solid action and believable characters, Last Stand on Zombie Island is definitely worth checking out.