This entire sub-genre of apocalyptic fiction is extremely hit or miss so I approach each book with very low expectations. This book is one of the better recent examples of a good apocalyptic tale that pulls from many inspirations (The Cell, I Am Legend, George Romero's The Crazies, etc) without being derivative or amateurish. I found it to be a compelling read start to finish. Thankfully the author does not feel compelled to inflate his word count. For this sub-genre of apocalyptic fiction it seems many authors are compelled to write 800 pages to tell a 300 page story. The book is short and well paced. A good quick read that covers a lot of territory.
I did enjoy this book but it's somewhat disappointing at the same time. It reads like a first draft of a book that could have been very good. About 2/3rds of the way in I was expecting all the disjointed plot lines to converge but that never really happens in any meaningful way. The original book did basically nothing to setup a sequel so I feel like this book suffers as a result.
What's with the weird Casio Tone interludes? It's so absurd. it's like a cat jumping on a keyboard. I guess I did enjoy them as comic relief but someone I don't think that was the intent. Dun dun DUN dun dun DUN.
This isn't pure horror or comedy like most zombie books/films out there. As someone who really enjoys "hard sci-fi" the natural comparison for me is to call this "hard zombie fiction" I admit it's not for everyone but this book and its predecessor standout as being something special in the collected mythology of zombie fiction. It's technical, realistic and smart.
The journal story telling structure imposes some limitations. Not much in the way of character development, dialog, etc. The upshot of that is you get something that I would describe as "hard zombie fiction" which focuses more on technique and strategy and less on the horror / suspense elements. If you're looking for a more traditional story structure with a neat ending this might not be the book for you.
I'm a big fan of this genre but this book was a pretty big disappointment. It's got a really weird pacing/structure. I was often confused what was happening, which characters were involved, or if it was real-time or a flashback. Justin Cronin has potential but this book really needed several more drafts or some serious editing work to be enjoyable.
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