Review of Tony Monchinski’s “Eden: Crusade”
Eden: Crusade is the sequel to Tony Monchinski’s first novel, Eden, which was essentially a murder mystery set in the community of Eden, a walled and barricaded sanctuary in New York City during the zombie apocalypse. The saga continues in book two with several of the key characters who survived Eden, and the primary story in Crusade is of their journey north, out of the city, toward a place that promises to be a safe haven for them. We are also introduced to a sizable group of other survivors who end up connecting with the characters from the first book toward the end of this story. The novel is book ended by chapters that take place in the future, where Bear, one of the key characters of both book one and two, taking it upon himself to start a crusade to destroy every last one of the undead in existence.
Overall, the storytelling style of Crusade is similar to the first book. The author is unapologetic of what happens to his characters, taking them in whatever direction serves his story rather than parceling out mercy or softening his touch anywhere along the way. He gives each character, minor or major, tremendous depth, which is impressive given the volume of people the reader is presented with in between these pages. We gain new insights into the old characters from the first book, but newer characters like Steve, Eva, and Sonya are also fully formed and felt very real and vital to me. Tony Monchinski has the knack of creating characters that revel in their shades of gray. What I mean by this is that it appears that almost anyone is capable of doing anything good or evil, given the means and motivation, and Tony is willing to explore that, no matter how sentimental the readers may be about a character they have gotten to know. That may be tough to swallow at some points in this story, but it is something I respect a great deal, because it shows a willingness to push and keep pushing as far as is necessary to get the storytelling job done.
As I try to do with my reviews, I bring up what I felt didn’t work for me along with what did. With Crusade, surprisingly, what didn’t work for me was in the first chapter. The book begins with a massive and lopsided battle pitting two characters against a mob of the undead that numbers in the thousands. I felt that it went on longer than was necessary, with an extensive description of all the weapons used, every tactic examined. I think it had a visceral appeal to it, but after a few pages, it felt repetitive to me. It could have been condensed and had the same impact on the story in my humble opinion. I thought it was certainly a powerful opening, but again, could have been shortened and still worked quite well.
With that one minor gripe out of the way, I consider this book an excellent sequel to Tony’s impressive debut. Again, I say that this writer has a talent for developing characters that are fully formed and razor sharp. He also gives his stories a gritty realism that is unapologetic. I am excited to see what the third book of the Eden trilogy holds, and look forward to reading it with great anticipation.
Eden: Crusade can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Crusade-Eden-Book-Tony-Monchinski/dp/1934861332/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282884119&sr=1-1
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