Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Sue Edge’s “Dead Tropics”

Dead Tropics starts out on a typical morning in Cairns, Australia, except for the fact that several miners have been reported with cases of encephalitis and are being sent to local hospital.  They had been given consent to mine in the area of the Cape Tribulation Rain Forest, to the north of Cairns.  Lori Nelson is a nurse and mother of three who has to report to her job at the hospital after dropping her kids off for the day.

We soon discover that whatever infection these miners suffered from is something that has been likely buried in this previously untouched rainforest and it brings the dead back to life.  Suddenly the world is turned upside down as Lori must join forces with several other members of the hospital staff to fight their way out of the ever increasing circle of danger and death that engulfs the hospital and the downtown area of the city.  Within a few brief hours of infection, the miners have died, risen up, and infected everyone around them.  Lori’s small crew race ahead of the growing outbreak and try to safely collect those they can save, including Lori’s kids and her sister’s family as well, with the hopes of escaping the city before it’s too late.

This is a zombie tale that definitely speeds along at a rapid pace.  Many undead stories that focus on the outbreak itself try to keep the energy level up throughout the story but tend to slow the tempo down at one point or another.  Such is not the case here, where the energy level remains high throughout, with barely any time for the reader to breath.  Of course, the somewhat unique angle played here is that Lori is a mother, and a fairly normal one at that.  She isn’t a superhero or has any special skills outside of the fact that she is a nurse, which does come in handy when an attempt is made to stop infection from spreading from a bite suffered by a loved one.  Other than that, the only thing that Lori seems to possess out of the ordinary is a stubborn determination to protect her family and to be a leader who takes charge of every situation they confront.  All in all, she is a realistic character that does her best, failing and succeeding in making good choices along the way, like most of us would do under the same circumstances.

It appears that an editing error pointed out by some other reviewers has been taken care of in this electronic version of the book.  The only glitch in the story that I noticed was the death and repeat death of a minor character within a couple of pages fairly early in the story.  The character is so minor he doesn’t even have a name, just a designation: B2.  Even with this, the writing is crisp and keeps things moving along, with little in the way of editing complaints to nag about.

There is a bit of romance in this story, though it doesn’t necessarily distract from the story as it can in some zompoc tales.  Lori’s blossoming relationship with Mike is front and center at a few select points in the story, but it remains subtle and in the background the rest of the time as they race from one danger to the next.  The important thing, in my mind, is that it didn’t feel forced or overdone.  Instead, it was a done with a deft hand and made sense based on the intensity of the experiences the characters were coping with.

As I always try to do, I point out issues that I have with a story.  Overall, Dead Tropics is a solid work with a voice not often heard in zombie fiction: that of a mother protecting her family.  I did take issue with the fact that while the spread of the virus from the hospital seems to be a uniform process of it going street by street, and inch by inch, it jumps well past its outer range at one point to create a convenient situation for the main character, forcing her to deal with ‘taking care’ of a couple of infected people she knows and who are very important to another key character.  The area where this takes place is otherwise still clear of infection-so much so that the next door neighbors seem oblivious to anything impending doom.  It is possible and I’m sure there would be an explanation, but it still seemed like a convenient plot development.  Still it, like the dual deaths of the insignificant character I mentioned earlier, are minor things, but worth pointing out.

While Dead Tropics is a fairly traditional zombie tale, with Romero type zombies and plenty of gore, mayhem, and bloody action, what makes it really stand out is its main character.  There certainly have been other female leads in this genre, but not many (or any that I can think of at the moment) whose focus was on protecting her young children and doing everything she could to keep them alive.  There have been those who have lost their children and those who are not the main focus of the tale, but this story zeroes in on her particular experiences and does a good job with it.  The author gives us a strong, appealing character with emotional depth and passion without sacrificing anything that the gore hounds and action fans want, which makes this a fun, solid zombie apocalypse read.

Dead Tropics can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Tropics-Sue-Edge/dp/1618680366/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343572750&sr=1-1&keywords=dead+tropics

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