Review of Tim Long’s “Among the Dead”
Among the Dead is the sequel of Tim Long’s zombie apocalypse novel Among the Living, which takes place in Seattle in the initial hours and days after patient zero is infected with an experimental cancer vaccine. The first book followed four separate story lines, telling the individual tales of Mike, a reporter, which is in first person, and a trio of other characters told in third person: Lester, a drug dealer, Kate, a budding serial killer who tortures and kills men in hotel rooms, and Grinder, the lead singer of a heavy metal band playing a gig in Seattle. Much of AtL takes place before and during each character’s realization that the zombie apocalypse is upon them. It provided the reader with insights into their normal, everyday lives before they kick into survival mode and witness firsthand how both their lives and the city is falling apart all around them. The zombies in this story are a mixture of fast and slow movers, with those initially infected retaining most of their normal physical abilities and then slowing down as they begin the process of rotting away.
The first book ended with the quartet coming together-their stories intersect as they are rescued and put into the football stadium by the military, along with the rest of the huddled masses who have managed to escape turning into the undead. Among the Dead, being the second book of a trilogy, serves up a different type of tale, with what amounts to a single day for the quartet-a day that each of them attempts to survive from moment to moment as the undead overwhelm the city around them and threaten to overwhelm the stadium as well. The characters are once again separate for the most part. They now know one another, but Kate tags along on a rescue mission with some soldiers while Mike interacts with Nelson, one of the soldiers who helped him survive in the first book. Lester, coming down off his permabuzz, is trying to cope with the loss of his girlfriend from the first book and perhaps sneak out and find a safe haven in the city so he can keep the party going. Grinder is MIA for part of the book, but reconnects with one of the other characters more than halfway through.
The author also introduces some side characters that interact at one point or another with the main characters to a certain extent, even if it is as the undead in some cases. Some, like the bum LeBeau, are more interesting than others and added some good texture to the tale. The author spends a lot of the time with Kate, who I am guessing was a favorite of many readers of the first novel. Kate is in her element in the apocalypse, or so it seems, having the excuse to let the “other” out to play. The “other” is the dark part of her that takes over and craves murder and violence and makes her the serial killer she has become. The temptation to slaughter not only the undead, but other survivors and even the soldiers Kate is with is a constant reminder of dark nature for the audience.
Among the Dead, being the second book of a planned trilogy, is clearly the second act in a three act play. We move forward with the story with the presumption that you know what has come to pass for Mike and the others from the prior book. The author does make a solid attempt to let this book stand on its own in many ways, though we are, of course, left hanging somewhat by the ending, which lures us down the path to its completion when Among the Ashes is published and completes things. I would, however, not recommend picking this book up without reading AtL first.
This is a solid follow up by the author, though a different type of novel just for the fact that things move here rather quickly, and there is little room for subtlety given the circumstances the characters find themselves in. Death and mayhem are all around them from start to finish, and the death of the city is well under way. The reader is granted some new insights and some of the characters are transformed by the events of this book (Kate in particular), but Among the Dead is focused primarily on action more than character development.
Overall, this book does solid duty in keeping the reader aware of what is going on with each character. Though Grinder wasn’t my favorite of the quartet, I would have liked to have had him share more of the spotlight in the early part of this book. He felt almost like a secondary character this time around. As mentioned, Kate steps forward as more of a main character and is allowed to develop in much greater detail than the other three. Unfortunately, her inner monologue, at certain points, felt a bit repetitive with her thoughts on killing virtually everyone around her overwhelming almost everything else inside her head. Despite this, Kate remains fascinating, especially with some of the vulnerabilities we discover about her and the new depths that her darkness seems to be taking her as she lets the “other” run amuck.
Again, this is a solid sequel to Among the Living that keeps the adrenaline flowing and gives fans of Kate in particular something to really sink their teeth into. Tim Long definitely keeps you on the hook with Among the Dead, intrigued to find out how things end up for the survivors in the final book in the trilogy.
Among the Dead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AXOR1HS/ref=cm_cr_thx_view