on 5 June 2013
I'm going through a zombie apocalypse mood right now, so when I saw this book, I thought I'd check it out. It didn't really deliver.
The book starts off pretty well, its very quick paced, but it just doesn't have that fist in the air kind of feeling to it.
The book is written at such a frantic pace in places, that you don't actually know what is going on. It can be quite hard to follow.
okay, the characters aren't great, but you still care for them & want them to succeed in their plight to find humanity. The main character is very weakly written. She goes from an overweight priest, who has no confidence & is on the brink of suicide. To this athletic ass kicking hero, in what seems like a matter of days. It isn't very believable.
The main villain is not very good either, you just feel let down by this persons actions and reasons for doing what they do.
The character of Ghost was pretty cool and the character Nail, was pretty good, but other than that, there is no-one else worth mentioning.
The zombie's or infected are very different here. They turn metallic, imagine a more fleshy version of the T1000 from Terminator 2, if he had a bad cold. Although this is different, I prefer my Romero/Snyder/Danny Boyle kinda zombies. These zombies weren't scary.
In fact, the isolation/setting of the book, is the scariest thing about this story. And at times, the characters isolation from mankind proves to be a bigger threat than the infected are.
This book is not awful, but if you are looking for depth, then read Stephen King. If your looking for a powerful story, then read Dean Koontz. If you want sick & twisted, read Tricky Laymon.
I know my views so far have been pretty negative, so I'll put it this way.
This book isn't scary at all, but if you want a bit of fast paced action, with the odd bit of gore & the odd set piece. Then this is for you. It's definitely a book to read by the pool while on holiday (Unless your holiday is in the arctic circle)
Not bad, not great, just kinda good.
Its something to read to help pass the boring hours of life.
If you want more excitement, then watch Aliens, or go listen to Slayer and imagine a crazy brush fighting a shoe with a beard.
on 29 November 2011
I love post-apocalyptic fiction. I was hopeful this was going to be a classic, I love the setting of a few people stuck on an oil rig at the end of the world. I was hopeful this book would conjure feelings of desolate isolation due to this setting, perhaps something like Alien or The Road. Unfortunately there is, possibly, too much going on in this book and it gets more and more unbelievable. One of the things I just couldn't get my head around (apart from the metallic themed pandemic) was that one of the main characters is a Vicar. She somehow becomes involved in the top level of decision making at the rig with the captain. I was also kind of hoping she was going to follow a darker "losing my religion/survival of fittest" type story line. Instead she becomes a kind of all round action hero and the source of a lot of the holes in the plot. I agree with the other reviews on here- reads a bit like a bad American sci-fi movie script.
Overall- I think teenagers would like it, and It kept me reading all the way through with the multiple changes in the plot (you're not short of cliff hangers when you put it down), but if you love the genre I doubt it will satisfy the hunger.
This is a bleak `end of the world' tale and is a promising debut,
Skeleton crew on an oil rig off the coast of Norway become aware that something significant has happened and are cut off. With a limited supply of food, drink and power they must decide what to do next.
This starts off well with an easy style and it throws you straight into life on the rig, mainly through the eyes of a female on board vicar. What starts off as a survivalist/rescue story then diverts to a sci-fi/zombie novel with a strange and slightly odd change of pace. Those who are not into sci-fi may not like this although the sci-fi elements are not that complex, they are more a vehicle to explain the zombies.
But the characters do develop, especially our vicar, and although consistently bleak there is pace and something to keep you turning the page. Have to say I liked the simple style and was sufficiently engaged to overlook minor weaknesses in what I thought was a pretty sound debut from author Adam Baker.
Outpost is one of those books that's driven by a premise rather than characters or logic, which is just as well since characterisation and characters behaving logically are in short supply here. Everything is sacrificed in the interests in keeping things moving, and if that means stereotypes have to behave stupidly to get to the next big setpiece or sentences becoming ever shorter to give the illusion of ever faster pacing that's clearly not a problem for the author. The tendency not to flesh anything out much or to think it through too much, often giving the impression that this started out as a screenplay and has been reformatted as a novel, and it's the sort of thing that could make for a much more enjoyable film than a novel. As it is, it's an okay read if you want to cut to the chase and aren't too bothered about the mechanics of getting there.
When a strange infection takes hold of most of the world's population, a small group of refinery workers in the Arctic are initially protected from the pandemic. But they soon tire of waiting for a rescue that never comes, and eventually decide to make their own way south to establish contact with whatever might be left of civilisation.
The disparate bunch - a suicidal female vicar, a sikh handyman who seems to be maintaining the rig single-handedly, a body-building thug, a failed medic, a bank cashier looking for a bit of excitement, and various 'Star Trek'-like bit-part extras (i.e doomed to meet a bitter end!), always manage to take the least sensible or safe option (wouldn't you be more likely to stay put in your heated refuge with 6 months of food and no sign of the undead?!). However their foolhardiness admittedly does keep the action and excitement ticking along nicely. And this is probably the book's greatest strength - the incredibly fast pace and constant changes of scene. On the flipside, most of the characters are not fleshed out properly, and potentially tense and exciting situations often resolved without explanation (such as the crew member who exits the plot in the first half of the book, yet inexplicably reappears toward the end with no detail of how or why they engineered their own return).
The number of high octane explosions, crashes, fights, and treks through the frozen wastes convince me that the author had a screenplay in mind from the outset with this book. And it probably would translate quite well into a sort of polar '28 Days Later'. But it's a shame that someone who I think probably is capable of writing a slightly more highbrow novel (as evidenced by the convincing descriptions of the inhospitable frozen environment) has opted for action over substance or suspense.
In summary, tersely written and a very easy read, but probably more public transport fare than Pulitzer prize.
on 3 February 2012
If you want to sum up this book, it's '28 Days Later' meets 'The Thing', but being nowhere near as good as that might sound.
Other people have gone into detail here, so I'll just say that it felt tired, very familiar, and all the characters speak in the same macho-speak you know from Hollywood action films.
Things happen to propel the plot rather than because they make any sense. None of the characters seem particarly bothered that the End isn't just nigh, it's happening right now, and the actual nature of the apocalypse is pretty daft.
It's not a terrible book by any means, and will pass the time if you have nothing better to read. Just turn off your brain and don't expect any originality or believable characters on the way
The book tells the tale of a skeleton crew marooned on a drilling rig in the Arctic Circle as the rest of the world succumbs to a mysterious plague. As the Arctic winter draws in their hopes of escape are raised and dashed (and raised and dashed...).
The evocation of the bleak environment, both within the rig and out on the ice, is handled pretty well, and the central idea of whether you want to be the first to go or the last to survive when your world ends is a recurrent theme of the dialogue between the characters. My main problem is that virtually all of the characters are so sparsely sketched that it is hard to care about any of them.
The writing style is spartan with lots of short sentences. By way of example: "Bitter. She grimaced. She scooped more painkillers. She didn't want to fall asleep before she ate enough pills to kill herself outright. She didn't want to wake.". Depending on your tastes, this is either invigorating or irritating. For me, it was irritating and interrupted the flow of the story.
There are a number of big set-pieces which help to keep the story moving along, and the survivors' reactions to the approaching plague are reasonably well framed, if not exactly novel. Personally, I think bringing in the sci-fi aspect was a mistake - a case of trying to tick too many genre boxes? Overall, this comes across as a plot treatment for a disaster movie, with some of the set pieces seemingly chosen for how they will look on-screen, rather than as a coherent development of the storyline. If you're not looking for anything deep or meaningful, it's an OK way to pass an evening or two, but overall I'd rate it as average.
on 21 March 2014
Does the world need yet another post-apocalyptic zombie thriller? Adam Baker thinks so and has delivered one with Outpost, his first novel.
The crew of the Kasker Rampart refinery platform are stuck in the arctic ocean waiting for supplies when they fear that things may not be going well back home. It becomes apparent that there has been an event (a global pandemic) and although all they can hear is “panic and rumour” it’s also clear they are on their own.
The characters set about planning a possible escape by exploring the surrounding snowy wastes and contacting other ships and platforms in the area. Soon, however, they meet some survivors and it’s clear they have more to worry about than they initially thought as what started as a fight for survival becomes all out war.
Okay, this isn’t technically a zombie novel but the ‘creatures’ (who have been subject to some kind of infection with sees them sprouting metal), are effectively zombies in every other sense so lets not be pedantic. It is a post apocalyptic novel, but the true nature of the event is never revealed. The oil platform and ensuing sense of confusion was reminiscent of the start of Conrad William’s One.
It’s a pretty good stab at doing something new with a frankly tired sub-genre. While ramping up the tension and confusion, Adam Baker also ramps up the action and despite the limited canvas of the snowy Arctic waste, manages to devise an impressive variety of situations for the characters to be placed in. The characters themselves are perhaps the strongest feature of the book, from Jane the faithless, suicidal vicar, to Punch the laid back and heroic chef there’s a nice range of conflicting personalities.
There are also some interesting themes lurking in the background. Jane’s loss of faith, the contrast between the castle like oil refinery and the sweeping panorama of the Arctic landscape as well as an ever present ecological undercurrent. These are all kept fairly low key allowing the pace to be maintained and it is a pacy book, with plenty of short, snappy action scenes to keep things moving.
So the world probably doesn’t need another post apocalyptic zombie novel but if we are going to get one then at least Outpost manages to satisfy with it’s entertaining mix of well drawn characters and action.
on 16 September 2013
There are spoilers in para 5. I picked up Outpost as I was attracted to the premis - a giant mothballed oil refinery platform anchored in the Barents Sea. A skeleton crew keep ing the city sized machine ticking over. The platform is so big 1000 men were needed to keep it pumping...... it looked 'as if a chunk of Manhattan broke loose and floated away'. The skeleton crew are waiting for a supply ship which never comes. TV stations cover apocalyptic events worldwide. Gradually each TV station stops broadcasting and all communications fail. The scene is set for a post apocalyptic survival epic with an oddball, disparate crew, almost unlimited supplies and resources and the arctic winter. However, this book fails on a number of levels. The author fails to exploit the character development, narrative drive, suspense, shock and reader investment that such a plot landscape provides. This book does not know if it is science fiction, survival horror, post apocalyptic horror or adventure. The author fails to meld all these genres. The result is not good.
The book is not badly written. Cliches are kept to a minimum. Sentence and paragraph structure are worked well. But the component parts of the whole just do not come together in a way that immerses the reader and drives the narrative forward. The characters are undeveloped, there are chasms of implausibility and I was filled with frustration and annoyance as I plodded through the book.
The characters are a sort of post modern Dirty Dozen (except there are 15). Selected by the author on the basis of interesting wackiness and by the owners of the oil platform on the basis that they were cheap to hire. A leader who the rig owners know is seriously ill and clearly not fit, a female chaplain who is so overweight, unhappy and unfit she wants to top herself, 5 psychotic divers who play, er, Ace of Spades by Lemmy and co as they pump iron, a 'timid and petite girl in her twenties' as rig administrator, a type A diabetic, a post heart attack engineer who needs his own defibrillator, a drug addicted doctor and a chef called Gary Punch. I just could not believe the company would have recruited this lot to maintain an asset costing millions of dollars. In any event the characters were either killed off without much ado or developed in cartoon frames. At the end of the book I could not care who died, who survived or who survived as a zombie type. I would point out that the female chaplain is called Jane BLANC (plain jane?) appears a thinly veiled post modern feminist metaphor. Nothing wrong with that but it is handled so obviously and badly. She looses weight, gets fit, takes all the risks, takes charge and leads the survivors to somewhere (see below) by taking command of the oil rig.
Lack of narrative drive - the first few pages are good at setting the scene. In particular the reader and the crew do not know what has happened worldwide but there is an increasing realisation of doom and isolation. This is dealt with well. However, the novel soon descends into a series of half baked plans to escape and chaotic excursions here, there and everywhere across, under and over the ice and the sea. Utterly implausible events and incredibly stupid and frustrating actions and conversations on the part of the dwindling crew slow the reader down. Increasingly I found myself asking why dont they do this, why did he ignore that, what was the point of that, why didnt they weld that door shut, why was the shotgun left on the table etc etc. In the middle of life threatening action there are pages of navel gazing - the drug addicted doctor sets off alone in a lifeboat and gets far enough south to sea that the European landmass seemed to be ablaze. She turns round and drifts (?) back to the oil rig. On this journey she endlessly muses on the meaning of life and everything. This pointless journey (Im not a sailor but I could not see the logistics of this journey) served only to provide a framework in which the doctor would go mad later on. So what.
SPOILERS - In due course a tug turns up after wandering around the Barents Sea, a cruise liner filled with zombies hoves into view (I do not jest) and this potential cornucopia of heat, light, food, shelter and return to a possibly better place is wrecked by our heroes, a secret underground Russian base is discovered (I lost my way in its tunnels as did the crew) and a spaceship/satellite crashes nearby. The sole occupant has some sort of metal growing out of him. Eventually members of the crew and all the passengers on the cruise ship become metal spiked zombies. Like so many things in the novel, this zombiefication is never explained. In the end a few of the crew, including the overweight chaplain who is now slim, get back to the remains of the oil rig which breaks free of the ice and drifts south to where we know not. Thats it! Little is explained and little is concluded. I was left with a deep sense of frustration and confusion. I understand that JUGGERNAUT, published after OUTPOST, is a prequel and that TERMINUS, again published after OUTPOST, is a sequel. This disjointed publication reflects the book. I will not be reading them.
Wow, this was a perfect book to while away a rainy Sunday - from the first page I was totally hooked. I really enjoy reading good post-apocalyptic novels, and this, I think, definitely falls in the `well worth reading' category.
The action is fast-paced - the reader is right into the thick of it from the beginning, when the workers on a a refinery platform in the Arctic Ocean above Norway find that the rest of the world, as far as they know, is suffering from some unknown virus. The impact on the rest of the world is obviously devastating but the isolated few in the Arctic have no idea how bad. How can they get home, and what will they find when they get there?
That turns out to be the least of their worries as they attempt to rescue themselves and find there's much more to this virus than they had ever anticipated. The crew on the refinery platform turn inside themselves to find their core, and the best and worst character traits come to the fore in this small group of people as they fight against each other and themselves as well as the unknown in the rest of the world.
Some reviewers have criticised the terse, soundbite narrative - personally I think this is the perfect way to write this genre - in this type of book, there's no time for introspection, there's no need for the reader to delve into the emotives of the action; the action is the reason for the book, and demands the reader's attention - short, snappy, to the point.
I'm hoping that there's a sequel to this book on the way - I for one will be waiting anxiously to see if that's the case, and lining up to read it. Totally recommended.
If you enjoy this, I am sure you will also enjoy "Last Light" and "Afterlight" by Alex Scarrow.