Review of Ben Rogers “Faith & The Undead”
Good and evil have done battle down through time with mankind as it pawns. This time, Satan has decided to play for keeps., having grown weary of all the jabs and feints of these minor battles that came before and decides to go for broke. So through the helpful hands of a twisted scientist, he unleashes hell on earth in the form of the living dead. They will swarm the living and turn them all into Satan’s dark minions, insuring his victory over God. But there is something that Satan has not foreseen, and that is that only those without faith can be turned into the empty, soulless shells that crave human flesh. Others with faith who are bitten simply die. And thus the battle for supremacy over the earth begins.
Frank Payens gets introduced to the reader as the start of the apocalypse is occurring. He is a man who has been on a quest to find something called The Home, which is rumored to be a place where ex-military can come to and find peace after absorbing a lifetime of psychological and physical scars in battle. Frank is a former Navy SEAL who doesn’t realize that he has been chosen to become a leader at The Home, which is not just a place where veterans go to forget, but go to prepare for the final cataclysm.
That is the basic overview of the novel, Faith & The Undead, at least at the start. This is not your traditional zombie apocalypse novel, though it has been written by someone who is a devoted fan of traditional Romero zombies, which shines through in this novel. As the minions of Satan, the undead in this book are bound to do his bidding, but other than that, they are your traditional slow-moving flesh eaters from the grave. A few other authors, such as Kim Paffenroth, Mark Rogers, and perhaps even Brian Keene have brought in religious overtones to their zombie novels (Keene might be considered a stretch, but his zombies are in fact demons from beyond the void, so I will include them here), so it is not as if Faith & The Undead stands alone in that regard, but I haven’t seen such a clear depiction of the battle between God and Satan on display in any other zombie books I have read before. In most zombie novels, the main and secondary characters will spend time questioning their faith, questioning whether God has abandoned or cursed them, and even the best amongst them will have ample reason to act in evil and selfish ways as it suits them during the atrocities occurring all around them during the apocalypse. That does not appear to be something that will crop up here. The lines in Faith & The Undead are very well defined between good and evil, and while evil has the upper hand on earth, good is not backing down, as it tends to do in most zombie novels. The Home is prepared for war and I believe we shall see a hell of a war (pardon the pun) in the second and third installments in this trilogy. While I do love the conflicts that tend to occur among survivors in most zombie novels-the tormented characters who struggle to do what is right but tend to lose their humanity by inches as they do, I like the idea of humanity not being such pushovers, which is what this story offers. It will be fun to watch as Humanity, or what remains of it, stands united in the fight against the Devil and his dark followers.
As I always do, I think it only fair to point out what I am critical about with each particular book I read, and so here it is with Faith & The Undead. I think for the first part of the book, the author was working hard to set things up for the trilogy and it seemed somewhat forced in places. I felt that there needed to be more about Frank Payens and his personal struggles before arriving at The Home, and more skepticism on his part about The Home upon his arrival. It takes very little prodding for him to essentially commit the rest of his life to these people he barely knows without so much as batting an eye. Perhaps that is in his nature, but because of the lack of background on him that the reader is given, it seems too abrupt. I do realize that more shall be revealed of Frank with the second and third novels in this trilogy, but I would have liked to have gotten to know him better before things got cooking here. Even if the assumption is that he does accept this path, the internal struggles and the dynamic of that would have been intriguing to see more of. But as the book rolled on, I started forget about this minor quibble as the apocalypse went into high gear and the author seemed to get down to business. The action sequences were tight and there were solid introductions to interesting characters, such as Karen, who is a refugee trying to find her way to The Home, which has opened its doors to anyone who can make it there alive.
There is plenty to like in this novel, and a lot of it has to do with the promise of what is to come in the second and third installments, when the battle for humanity gets into full swing. This is a good start to a promising trilogy, and I am very interested to see what Mr. Rogers comes up with next.
Faith & The Undead can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Undead-Benjamin-Rogers/dp/1452869820/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285870690&sr=1-1