Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: Fire (Elements of The Undead) by William Esmont

Fire (Elements of The Undead) by William Esmont

No one knows what caused the dead to rise. No one knows what caused them to attack the living. Fighting for their lives, scattered survivors find the attempted cure to be almost worse than the disease.

In the twilight of a shattered civilization, the fate of humankind rests upon the actions of a handful of war-weary survivors. Driven to a scorched corner of the former United States, they alone hold the key to a global reawakening.

Or the final epitaph for a dead planet.

I was excited about getting my hands on this one for a few reasons. First of all, I am a huge horror fan. Secondly this one is about zombies. ZOMBIES. And, of course, I love post-apocalyptic themed fiction.

As the book begins, we are given an almost dizzying introduction to several of what will become the book's main characters. Some notables being Megan, who is a prostitute, Alicia is a grocery store clerk, Jack and Becka are New Mexican parents of two girls, and Cesar is a potential Mexican immigrant hell bent on finding his way through the desert to the promised land. We follow their stories and watch as their personal horrors unfold when the dead start to walk the earth. It gets even worse when the collective governments decide on a way to rid the most heavily populated places on the globe of the walking dead. 

In a lot of ways, this is a pretty standard zombie tale. Dead people start shuffling after live people, trying to eat their brains and everybody freaks out. The fittest survive and shore up in a defensible place to try and restart the world as they knew it. 

The difference here is the human angle and the struggle not only to survive but to effectively re-learn how to live. The inter-personal relationships here are important and offer a lot of insight into and development of the characters' lives. 

With that said, I do have some problems with this book. First of all, being as familiar as I am with the whole horror genre (whether it be movies, television or fiction) I feel that I've seen all this before. The book draws very strong comparisons to the AMC original show The Walking Dead with a few of the twists from Stephen King's The Stand thrown into the mix. And, in all honesty, the switching from character to character became somewhat confusing. I found myself having to go back and remind myself which person was which. I understand why the author did this, but it doesn't make it any easier to follow. The final, and probably most disturbing of all of the issues I had with this book is that it is an obvious beginning of a series. Sometimes I'm ok with this but, in this instance, it just aggravated me to know that I'm going to have to wait for these conflict resolutions. If I choose to read the sequel, which I may not. 

All in all, this book is well written and entertaining, if unoriginal. There are some heartbreaking moments and we do feel sympathy for the characters and their struggles. 

On a zero to five scale with zero being the worst, this book gets THREE STARS!

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