Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension Book One starts out introducing us to Bob, a mercenary for hire who is looking for a serial killer named Traverse, a former Special Forces operative. Traverse is wanted alive despite the gruesome crimes he’s committed over many years of being on the run. When he finds Traverse, the madman speaks of a gate being open that will cause the end of the world. Captured, he is committed to an insane asylum in Detroit.
Three years later, Bob is called upon again, this time with two of his best mercenaries-Miles and Vega- in tow. He has to capture Traverse again, pulling him out of the same insane asylum he was put in for his crimes. The only problem: Detroit is in the throws of a brutal riot, with the city tearing itself apart piece by piece. It is fast becoming clear that this is not your normal riot because the rioters are eating one another.
The story follows Bob’s mission, but also introduces the reader to several other citizens of Detroit who are coming to grips with the situation they’ve found themselves in, including a lawyer, his drug-addled brother, a gang banger, an ex-cop pornographer and his former girlfriend, and a porn starlet currently residing in the same insane asylum as Traverse because she has a penchant for cannibalism.
While Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension does share similarities with many other tales focused on the initial hours and days that the dead rise, with plenty of panic, gore, and horrific frights, it is how the dead rise and the characters that inhabit this story that make it unique. Detroit has a reputation for being a rough city and it makes for a gritty urban setting for this story. The ensemble cast is headed up by Vega, the female mercenary, Traverse, an insane prophet and murderous madman, and Griggs, the ex-cop who wants to keep on making porn movies while the world unravels around him. This is a very interesting story with Traverse and Mina meeting up at the asylum on the day the undead rise taking center stage. Mina is Griggs former girlfriend and star of his porn movies, at least until she ate the last actor she worked with. Traverse has plans for Mina, and knows that she is more than just another run of the mill psychopath.
The pacing is fast and the action steady in this tale, while the characters are a mixed bag of oddities. They definitely kept me guessing from start to finish, with some of the deaths being rather surprising, and their actions even being more surprising. It’s hard to argue about realism when the characters are so strange and different than the norm.
There is a bigger picture here. The rise of the dead is not through the traditional means readers of zombie fiction are used to, and it is clear by the title that the author intends to reveal all that is kept secret in this book over the course of a likely trilogy.
The author took on a sizable cast of characters and did an admirable job of allowing the reader to see the world through many of their eyes. The characters of Traverse, Vega, and Griggs were intriguing to me. Some of the other characters, such as the lawyer and junkie who were brothers, didn’t resonate. The author makes a game effort to give their story emotional heft, but their story felt hollow to me. And while I didn’t necessarily like most of the characters in this book, I don’t consider that a negative. They kept me intrigued, even if I wasn’t necessarily rooting for any of them. Some of them grew on me in small amounts, and it will be interesting to see how the characters that remain at the end of the book grow and transform through the rest of this series.
Overall, Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension Book One, has way too long of a title, but is a very interesting contribution to the zombie genre. This isn’t your workaday saga about average people trying to make due in a world gone mad, but is about a bunch of mad people living in the eye of the undead storm. Mr. Bilof has me intrigued enough that I feel compelled to check out the next book in this series when it becomes available.
Necropolis Now: Zombie Ascension Book One can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/098747653X/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Nightmare of the Dead introduces us to a young woman who wakes up on a train during the civil war, her memory lost, but her sense of what she is capable of with a gun still intact. As a strange green mist appears in another one of the train cars and seeps into hers, she discovers that some sort of horrific transformation is taking place among the men that surround her. Not all are affected by the gas. At least one other boy-a soldier for the confederacy-does not transform into a creature that dead yet still living like the others, and neither does she. These creatures are violent, deadly monsters that lust for flesh and must be killed with a bullet through the head. For all intents and purposes, they are zombies, and their introduction comes as quite a shock to her.
While seeking to discover her identity as faint traces of her past seep into her mind, the woman is pursued by a group of outlaws who know about her past and have plans for her. At the same time, we are introduced to a mad scientist who is the creator of the toxic gas she was exposed to on the train. He has been employed by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, in an effort to turn the tide of the war with his new invention, but the scientist’s main goal is to gain membership into a dark, underworld organization that is intrigued by what he has wrought. The story slowly reveals his relationship with the amnesiac woman and how she is valuable to both him and the “Nightmare Collective.”
Nightmare of the Dead is a zombie tale, though the zombies here are more mutations than anything-it does not appear that they infect you through their bites, but by the exposure to the gas, or other variations of the ingredients the scientist has mixed to cause the zombification.
The story has a different take on the zombie genre in some ways, and the undead play a very secondary role to the main characters and their quests to both understand more themselves and gain revenge upon one another for a very complicated past. I’ve read historical zombie tales-those of the old west included-but this one foregoes many of the traditional elements found in most and carves out its own path. Fans of the genre will get their fair share of zombie gore and action, and both the main character and villain are well developed, especially when the story dives deeper and deeper into their shared history, but don’t go in expecting a traditional tale of the apocalypse. Both the main characters are vile in different ways, but the author is able to give us at least a reason or two to feel sympathy not only for the obvious one of the two, but the other as well.
I think it only fair to share concerns that come to mind with any book I review, and with Nightmare of the Dead it came down to some overly descriptive verse and stiff dialog. This wasn’t something that was pervasive throughout, but came up enough to serve as a distraction. By no means did it wreck the story for me, but it did make some characters feel a bit more forced and awkward than others. The flow isn’t always natural with how they speak. Again, this served as more of a distraction than a major issue, but it was noticeable and I feel compelled to point it out.
Outside of this issue, the story is solid, enjoyable, and I liked discovering and learning about these characters. It is clear that a sequel must be forthcoming, and I look forward to checking that out as well.
Nightmare of the Dead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1479129496/ref=cm_cr_thx_view
Escape From Dead City begins at a London hospital, where the story abruptly introduces us to an infection that turns its victims into the undead. We meet Pauline and Gordon, two doctors who are in a relationship with one another. When the military arrives at the hospital to deal with the onslaught of the undead after the two doctors have already dealt with one of the undead, it becomes readily apparent that they need to escape the hospital. Not soon after they realize that they better flee the city as well, because it’s clear that the trouble isn’t localized to their area, but is everywhere. The dead are rising up and overwhelming the living in uncountable numbers.
At the same time, Pauline’s sister, Margot, and her boyfriend Arthur are coming to the same conclusion from their apartment in the city. After communicating with one another, the two sisters agree to meet and get out before the whole city is overwhelmed by the undead. Arthur, who is a train engineer, convinces the other three to make their way to the train station, where he can get them all aboard one of the last trains out of the city. Little do they know that the military have commandeered the station and the specific train Arthur has in mind for their escape. Soon, the quartet discover that the train might grant them a form of escape from London, but will take them on a journey with both the military and scientists doing everything in their power to put an end to the plague that threatens to engulf the entire world.
Escape From Dead City doesn’t necessarily introduce its audience to anything new in the zombie genre. The undead are fairly traditional and the key characters include a scientist who is passionate about finding a cure and a military man who will do whatever it takes to maintain control over those under his supervision. What the tale does bring to the table that is somewhat unique is the rapid-fire pace with which it moves. The story takes place within the first 24 hours of infection. There is little time for the reader to pause and reflect as the two sisters and the rest of the cast of characters move from one challenging situation to the next at a breakneck pace.
The story offers up plenty of entertainment, gore, and action, though the characters are perhaps what I would call a bit lean. This just means that we aren’t given a tremendous amount of depth with them-there isn’t enough time for us to get to know them all too well. Not necessarily a major drawback, since the focus in this tale is on the action and a race against time. I did feel that Colonel Page, the hard-nosed commander of the squad of soldiers responsible for the safety of the scientists, was the most interesting and detailed character of the lot. He was rough but pragmatic, with limited time to deal with any BS that might interfere with him getting the job done. The dialog is a bit stiff at times, with some turns of phrase being used a bit repetitively (‘soldier man’ was one that felt a bit overused by several of the characters), but overall the pacing is smooth with very few disruptions to the flow of the tale. With a planned sequel, the author has the opportunity to delve deeper into each of the surviving characters, which will give me more reason to root for or against their survival as they race to both stay alive and find a cure for the plague that has been unleashed on the world.
Escape From Dead City can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Dead-City-John-McCuaig/dp/1479186058/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351917573&sr=1-1&keywords=escape+from+dead+city
Chris Commons is a folk rock singer on the way to a gig in Beaumont, Texas with his cousin Mark and friend Steve, who are the other members of his band. The venue they’re supposed to play in appears to be abandoned when they show up a few short hours before the show and it looks like their concert has been cancelled on them. But when they head over to a nearby coffee house and see what’s on the television, they discover that the abandoned venue is the least of their worries. The boys have landed in the middle of the zombie outbreak on the road with nowhere to go as the undead begin showing up in droves outside. Cut off from their van, they do their best to find safety with the coffee house clerk in tow, but soon discover that there isn’t any place left that’ll protect them from the undead.
Epidemic of the Undead is a bare-bones no nonsense zombie apocalypse thriller with a passion for blood, guts, and a high body count. The reader is given no explanation of how the plague got started and no explanation is needed as we role through the first few hours and days after the dead have risen. This is all about the action, gore, and the characters efforts to come to grips with the fact that everyone is turning up dead (and undead) all around them. The zombies are traditional slow movers with all the regular strengths and weaknesses. The story sticks to Chris’s perspective throughout and his goals are simple: don’t get bitten, stay alive long enough to get back to see his parents in Tennessee, and perhaps discover if Stephanie, the coffee house clerk, is more interested in him than Steve, the lothario of the band.
The story moves at a fast clip and while I had some issues with some of the dialog being a bit stilted in places and the fact that there were some typos along the way, the action and gore were more than up to snuff, with some of the descriptive details of the trauma the undead had suffered leaving me a bit queasy (which is a good thing for the zombie fan). I was rooting for Chris and his chances with Stephanie-the author didn’t overdo the romance angle given the type of story this was, but it was a nice touch, and added a bit of normality to the insanity of the world crumbling around him. Chris isn’t any sort of hero, just another guy trying to survive, which made him someone I could identify with. Just a regular guy trying to figure out how to use a gun for the first time and make sure all his friends don’t end up dead. Pick this one up if you’re looking for a fun undead escape with plenty of gruesome action.
Epidemic of the Undead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Epidemic-Undead-Zombie-Novel-ebook/dp/B0088KAWN4/ref=la_B006XWFXBU_1_4_title_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1338856202&sr=1-4&fb_source=message