Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Craig Jones’ “Outbreak: The Zombie Apocalypse”

Outbreak is a zombie outbreak tale told from the first person perspective of Matt, a young man living on a gated estate with his younger brother, Danny.  Their parents died a few years earlier, leaving them independently wealthy and living close to a fairly small, remote village in south Whales.  They don’t have jobs and no other reason to venture out from behind their walls-especially with the government telling everyone to remain hidden while the undead roam the land.  But there are other people begging for help in their little village like Nick, his wife, and three children.  So the two brothers, watching as the undead slowly creep into their lives, try to do what they can to help those around them.

Outbreak is, in many ways, a pretty routine tale of an undead uprising.  The zombies here are slow, stupid, and until they see blood they tend to be fairly limited in their reactions to humans (at least from a distance- the living who get near them are brutalized, naturally).  This is a story of two brothers’ relationship and how they cope, and in ways, grow into something more than the leisurely slackers they’ve been most of their lives before this crisis consumes them and everyone around them.  They find it hard to react to what is happening at first, as does everyone else, but before long it changes them from carefree lay bouts into desperate souls willing to risk their lives for people they barely know.

In other ways, this story is different than the majority of zombie tales out there.  The outbreak is contained to Great Britain, which is sealed off from the rest of the world while the inhabitants either eradicate the undead or humanity is wiped off the island completely.  Another aspect of the tale that is different is that living actually manage to turn the tide here, but not before the brothers and their new found friends face tremendous perils, witness the gruesome demise of several people they are trying to save, and are forced to cope with heart wrenching loss.

But the story does not stop when the undead are defeated…

The story carries forward from there, and this simple story of the zombie apocalypse takes a couple of interesting turns.  Without revealing too much (or any spoilers), I can say that this book has three very different parts to it, and what I have described above only encompasses the first of the three.

I’m not sure how to react to the book in its entirety.  It is written well, and I did grow somewhat attached to Matt, despite his self-absorption and inability, at times, to see things beyond his own misery.  He grows and changes through the tale, but not necessarily matures, and not all of his changes are positive or smart.  This leads to the intriguing, if somewhat slow moving second part of the book, and the shocking third and final act.

At times, I was wondering why the story was continuing on long past the putting down of the undead, and in retrospect, I think the author could have condensed things a bit in part two of the tale, just to move things along and get us to the adrenaline-drenched conclusion of the story.

Suspension of disbelief is always a key part of enjoying a good zombie tale.  There are a couple of instances in this story that might stretch that suspension of disbelief for some folks out there who like their zombies to be of the traditional variety.  I am not talking about the slow vs. fast debate, but what capabilities zombies have beyond being mindless eating machines.  For me, this wasn’t an issue, because I believe the creative liberties the author took here with the undead were intriguing, but it is fair to point out that if you tend to dislike seeing zombies doing more than acting like thoughtless predators, you might take issue with this story as it progresses.

Overall, this was an interesting and fun undead story.  The characters felt genuine and real to me, even if Matt and Danny were foolish, arrogant, and rash at times.  They were also likable and in their own way, quite noble.  Again, there are really three distinct acts here, and each one moves at a different pace.  While the first act could stand alone, the second, more plodding act allows the story to move to the final portion of this tale, which flies by at a blistering pace and had my heart racing before all was said and done.

Outbreak: The Zombie Apocalypse can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Outbreak-the-zombie-apocalypse-ebook/dp/B006T3IRD4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329434397&sr=1-1

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