Review of Gareth Wood’s “Age of the Dead”
Age of the Dead is the sequel to Gareth Wood’s Rise, which was released by Permuted Press last year, but was originally created in a serial blog format several years back. The first story tells the tale of Brian and his experiences during the weeks and months following the rise of the undead. It provides us with his efforts to survive with his sister and the woman he meets who eventually becomes his wife. It ends with him the leader of a scavenging team sent out from Cold Lake, where the military has created a safe haven for most of the survivors in Western Canada. Age of the Dead continues where Rise left off, with Brian and his crew going on missions to either retrieve much needed supplies out in the wastelands or to find more survivors.
Both books were written in first person, with the first book being done in journal format. Everything is told from Brian’s perspective with all the limitations and advantages that format yields. The author changed things up a bit with Age of the Dead, and while the story is told in first person once again from Brian’s perspective, it is no longer in journal format. There is dialog and there isn’t that sense of premonition you get from a journal where the author hints at the action to come at the beginning of every journal entry. A journal is like reading a newspaper article about something that happened the day before, whereas the new format the author uses in his second book puts the reader right into the action.
The writing here is smooth and the story flows well, though there really isn’t any specific direction the author seems to be taking with the story. I had mentioned in my review of Rise that the book could have cut off earlier-when Brian and company find their way to the safety of Cold Lake, but carried on with his first missions doing salvage. This story, much like the last part of the previous book, carries on with that theme. The action is more intense and there is a willingness here to let some of the characters die, which was a change from the first book. The adventures Brian and company have were enjoyable to read about, but I was often left wondering where things were headed. There are hints toward the end of the book that the story might get more focused in the third installment, which shows good promise.
Overall, the quality of this installment is good and the writing format is more satisfying than the first book. There is more emotional heft to Brian here-the stakes are higher than before. At the same time, I would like to see the story take a more specific direction. The missions Brian takes on with his crew could go on indefinitely. But as I already alluded to, there are indications that the third book will have a more specific direction and a more defined objective in mind. I look forward to seeing what the author does with this tale going forward.
Age of the Dead can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1618680501/ref=cm_cr_thx_view