Review for T.W. Brown’s “Dead: The Ugly Beginning”
Author T.W. Brown indicates that this will be the first of at least five books in his Dead Saga. All I can say to that is: when is the second volume coming out?
This is the beginning, and so we are introduced to a wide array of characters. It is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, the beginning of the end for the human race, and the beginning of some incredible and wide spanning journeys for characters both big and small. We are provided with two main stories in this book. One is told from the perspective of Steve, a guy living in Portland, Oregon when the infection begins, although he is soon on the road, picking up a neighbor girl on the way as things quickly unravel around him. The other story is of a group of geeks in Norfolk, Virginia who are also attempting to cope with the apocalypse and get on the road almost immediately, to start heading west to an area they hope is lacking enough in population that it will be safe. The author doesn’t stop there with the characters, adding chapters entitled Vignettes, which share the stories of others, both survivors and the not so lucky, as they live and die throughout the country (and in a couple of cases, in other areas of the world). Some of the characters introduced through those chapters will continue to play a role in the upcoming books, or at least the sequel, although many face their doom rather abruptly in this story.
This is a very traditional Romero zombie style story, which means that you shouldn’t expect the zombies to be demonic, speedsters, or intelligent. These are the slow moving, inevitable shamblers that inhabit nightmare not because you can’t run away from them, but because they never stop coming for you, in greater and greater numbers. You have time to pause and consider your fate as they close in, slowly, awkwardly, knowing that they will get through the barricades in time because they will never stop until everyone is devoured and turned into what they have become.
The key to a story like this one is to have compelling characters, which is what Mr. Brown has created. Whether they’re one of the main characters like Steve, Kevin, or Mike, or any of the multitude of more ancillary characters, there are very few “extras” in this tale. Even those who have been bitten in the vignettes that you know almost immediately are about to die are provided with a compelling enough storyline to make it so I cared about them as a reader. There are good and evil people, as there always are in these stories, but more important, the good guys can and do make mistakes, which means that while you are rooting for them, they are still human and still apt to make a monumental mistake that gets someone killed. The author has developed “real” characters, which is why I am looking forward to see where they end up going in this story, even if it is always in doubt as to whether or not any of them will be able to survive until the very end.
Dead: The Ugly Beginning is on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Ugly-Beginning-T-Brown/dp/0984537201/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274811322&sr=1-1