Review of Kevin Burke’s “The Last Mailman: Neither Rain nor Sleet nor Zombies…”
The Last Mailman is, as others have discovered, not a really accurate title for this book, given what actually happens in this tale, but it does introduce us to the main character and what his job essentially is, with some caveats. DJ is the hero of his world, which is four years past the onset of the zombie apocalypse. He lives in a walled in, protected city that is a stand-in for New York. Other stand-ins are out there for other cities-the real cities fell to the undead and the survivors that managed to get to the barricaded bases nearby named them in honor of the fallen. So new-New York has a population of a little over 800 people. DJ has been nicknamed the mailman, though he doesn’t deliver packages between cities, as you might suspect. Instead, he is the guy who goes out into the wilderness (which is everything beyond the walls) and searches for people that were left behind, as well any mementos for the survivors who made it to New York and left those others behind. He brings closure, because the majority of the time he finds no survivors, just their corpses or the zombie versions of them, and gives them their final rest. The story leaps from this concept, which would have been an interesting one on its own, to a mission the President of New York has called DJ in to be involved with: Atlanta has indicated that they have discovered a cure for the plague, and they are willing to swap several women for doses of the cure. That is another key element of this story: women are asked to volunteer to breed so the human race can continue to grow. They are not forced to; it seems that most women are willing to do so, at least in New York, and apparently in Atlanta as well, though not everyone is happy with the concept. Despite his better judgment about trading women for a cure, DJ is willing to hop the flight to oversee the trade. The plane ends up crashing, and the survivors land out in the wilderness, which is DJ is at his best. Together, those that survive the crash decide that they’ll try to make the trip to Atlanta instead of heading back to New York, with the hope of somehow completing the mission. The book tells the tale of DJ and the other survivors and their adventures out in the wild, facing both zombie and living perils along the way.
Overall, this was an entertaining zombie read, with ample gore and action. DJ is a man’s man, but he makes plenty of mistakes along the way, which lends a human quality to him, along with the fact that he always seems willing to do what he can for his friends and other survivors. It was hard not to like him as a character. This story is told in first person from DJ’s perspective, and for the most part, that works in this tale. Overall, the story was fun, though I felt that some scenes were sped through that could have been drawn out with more detail and more nuance, but that is a minor complaint. As to other concerns I had with the story, there were a few I feel it only fair to point out. One is that the author swaps perspectives briefly-for about the length of a chapter or two, to two characters besides DJ. It is a bit disorienting in a first person tale, and I don’t think it was necessary here (the author could have figured out another way to share that same information we get from these other people). I also felt that one particular character changed their personality late in the game in a way that didn’t really make sense to me. It felt forced-an attempt to make things more interesting, I suppose.
Even with these quibbles, this was a fun, enjoyable zombie tale with an interesting take on what the future might hold for the long term survivors of the zombie apocalypse.
The Last Mailman can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Last-Mailman-Neither-Sleet-Zombies/dp/1934861979/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327281351&sr=8-1