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on 25 January 2016
Not bad. Elements of 'the passage' and the twelve' I thought. Good to read both points of view about the troubles in northern Ireland. Very well written, funny at times. I think maybe Mr Simmons based Larks look on himself as I saw a PIC of him and was just as I imagined Lark would look!
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Irish zombies? Bring it!

This is another good one! Nothing fancy with this one and there's no Hollywood treatment, just honest to goodness rotting foulness and the rising dead causing havoc.

I don't really know much about Irish politics, apart from what I've seen on the news over the years, usually referred to as 'The Troubles in Northern Ireland'. The news events were peppered with acronym's so I had a fair idea of what they were when they were mentioned in the book. The IRA (Irish Republican Army), the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), the paramilitary, Catholic's, Protestants, ... the zombie virus doesn't care which side someone is on, they're all on the same side now...

The story is a layered plot (which I love) and each section is told from varying viewpoints. I love these types of stories where over time all the individual storylines start to converge.

There's George and Norman, the policemen (good cop./bad cop). Lark, a tattoo'd junkie and his new friend McFall, an enigma who refuses to take off his knitted balaclava are joined by redhead Geri who thinks on her feet. Pat is ex IRA and somewhere along the line has teamed up with Karen, a young woman who is possibly Catholic. Army personnel in the form of Major Jackson (retired) and Dr Gallagher the crazy mental army doctor/torturer. Lots and lots of little stories all linking up to make one big story.

The zombie flu was virulent and deadly and it's not 100% clear where it came from or why, but very quickly it's less about where it came from and more about where it's going. It whips round the population with lightning speed and before you know it the whole country has succumbed to it.

The thing that I found interesting about this one was that all the baggage that the characters carried from before the plague was still hindering them in the aftermath too. They were all in the same predicament now...survive by any means possible, but they all still held their grudges against the different factions, even when it was way beyond the point of mattering. Lark, the junkie troublemaker and Norman the policeman don't trust each other and Pat the ex IRA always assumes the worst about the military and vice versa. Old grudges and prejudices taint everything.

It's just a brilliant zombie book.. Survivors, zombies, just the usual fare but really well done. I cared a lot about what happened to everyone.

Some I liked and willed them to do well, some I hated and wished death upon them....Wayne Simmons doesn't mess about though and thinks nothing of killing his people off, just not always who you were rooting for to be killed. I liked that nobody was safe, just like it would be in a real zombie apocalypse. Just because they were a main character in a book was no obstacle to death finding them.

There's a follow on book so enough of them survived to carry on in the next one. I'm really looking forward to that one too as there are hints of perhaps a cure for the plague. Knowing how this one ended I'd say that it's not going to be easy, either way but I'm sure it'll be a great read.

*said in my very poor Irish accent* "Norn Iron zombies! Go read it noy!
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on 12 April 2010
Ever wondered what might happen if flu turned people into zombies? No, me neither. Now having read this feisty little tome I can see that it's a question that definitely needs asking. You see, in this tale from Wayne Simmons a flu pandemic wipes out most of civilisation, and those who die coughing up their internal organs don't stay dead. Instead they rise as cannibalistic undead, and roam the streets seeking out the few survivors to satisfy their hunger.

The streets in this particular tale of the lurching dead are those of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The run down council estates of these environs provide a perfectly bleak backdrop to the story. Peopling the remains of this environment, are those who survived the initial bout of zombie plague to serve as protagonists. They are a varied bunch and include an ex IRA gunrunner, a retired army major, and a young skinhead.

Despite the silly sounding idea of a flu pandemic causing a zombie apocalypse, I found this book to be great fun. It has a dark wit running through it, and a great punk attitude; lean, mean and full of energy. I really liked Simmons's writing style too, I found it enthusiastic and straight to the point. Some may not be so keen, however, as it's blunt and frequently involves swearing. For me the at times sardonic tone suited the story perfectly. Not that there is a great deal of obvious humour, but a dark humour permeates the narrative and dialogue.

This book is so lean it could be an advert for Weight Watchers. At 282 pages of almost non stop zombie mayhem, there is certainly no padding. Thankfully the characterisation doesn't suffer from its slightness. You know enough of what you need to know about the characters to make them interesting and rounded. As the story evolves you get a sense of the very different worlds they all inhabited before civilisation collapsed. This works really well in a Northern Irish setting as it evokes - without Simmons needing to make any explicit point - how meaningless the divisions between people are in the face of widespread catastrophe and mass death.

Further into the story we learn of threads that connect some of the protagonists to one another, although they don't all meet. Simmons also reveals a little of the events that occurred following the initial outbreak of the virus, and the response of the authorities. This is typically bleak and unforgiving, but the ideas are not really anything new. What works well is the tension created among the characters, as some suspect the involvement of others in dark deeds. Tension and mistrust amongst the surviving characters is always present. The flu virus is airborne, and unsurprisingly paranoia has become the norm. Again, I like the writing of the characters and crucially, I cared about what happened to them.

This isn't the most original book you're ever going to read. In many ways this book reminded me a lot of the film 28 Days Later. The zombies in this are not driven by rage, but by hunger, and perhaps by a need for warmth. Simmons never actually explains what is driving his zombies, there are just hints in their behaviour. This is true of many other aspects of the story as well, and when I reached the end I still had a lot of questions which hadn't been answered. This left me feeling a little unsatisfied, but because I enjoyed the book, what I really wanted was a sequel. I don't know if a sequel is planned, but it feels like it should have one. I would certainly buy it.

In summary Flu is a belligerent little number. An easy to read, action packed blast of zombie shenanigans, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Above all I found it a fun read, and unlike the zombie hordes within, it certainly wasn't brain dead. There may be a lot that's never really explained, but what remains is a highly entertaining addition to the zombie canon.
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on 30 January 2011
I don't know what I was expecting with 'Flu', but it was better than I thought it was going to be. Really, I was drawn in by the exceptionally creepy front cover.

The characters Simmons created were realistic, but I found some had more depth than others. I particularly liked Lark, Geri and Balaclava guy (it's been a while since I read it and I can't remember his actual name). They were an interesting group of people who grow on you. I wasn't too bothered for Karen and Pat.
Also, the two cops from the prologue come back into it later and it took me ages to realise it was them! I felt kind of stupid for not realising straight away.

The book is an easy and fairly quick read (Especially after reading The Passage by Justin Cronin which is hell of a book!) and it was enjoyable and at times quite gross.

And, maybe this is just me, but the fact it was set in Belfast was kind of amusing, because it's such a random place for the end of the world to originate from.
I did enjoy the book though and it's worth reading.

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on 3 October 2011
Well it is a zombie book with a difference in that it starts off with a flu so you have your starting cause but not the how or why the flu came about. The story splits between 3 small gatherings of survivors, 2 cops, an ex IRA man and religious young woman and 2 men who had frequent brushes with the law. As well as them we dip in and out of the goverments army men in command and divide between them with.

I didn't mind how the story started out but for me it got really silly with big inconsistancies and stupid behaviour. For example the virus is airborn yet when they are killing the zombies they are covered in gore and blood yet not getting the infection however if they bite you thats it. The army or soldiers turning on each other and the idiocy of one of them whilst carrying out his work was just insane. There are lots more but to tell you would be spoiling it.

The ending, well as with most of these books you never really get complete closure but the way this ended was just pointless unless the author is planning another in the series which explains all of the things brought up but not addressed or explored in this book. As a stand alone it gets 2/5 however if another book came out and explained more about it I might re evaluate my scoring.
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on 27 February 2011
I bought this book randomly off Amazon as it was recommended to me. Perhaps it's just me and I've read too many books of a similar genre, but I really did find nothing special or interesting about this.. Standard plot of flu mutated, 99% of population becomes zombies, a few survivors grouped together trying to figure the whole thing out.. oh, and the army and a few old conspiracies involved. On the whole, not a bad book but not a great book - no new ground covered and nothing particularly gripping or memorable about it.. I did find it a bit of a chore to read in the middle. For a different take on the Zombie genre rather than the same old recipe, I'd recommend reading John Avide Lindqvist 'Handling the Undead'.
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on 17 August 2010
To start off with, I liked this book, if was good enough to finish, the story and characters were engaging enough to make me want to read on. That has to be a good thing right? Though not original (lets face it Virus + Zombie = Undead Munchies and Survivors avoiding Becoming Nibbles, or, V+Z=UM-SBN as the formulae goes), that doesn't mean it's bad. As stated before, and by others, I liked this book.

However, there were some issues that I had with it. First up are the sloppy errors, unforgivable spelling and punctuation. Wayne Simmons and the team should have picked those up. The editing felt loose and flabby, given the length of the book, which brings me on to...second, the book was too short, more depth might have pulled me into the Flu world and given much more strength and feeling to the experience.

But lastly, and for me the read bug bear was the constant "as if's" it was as if the writer could not think of an alternative, as if he was struggling, oh, see, he's got me doing it now. It was very distracting. Two or three times in a chapter are repetitive enough, but two or three per paragraph, well, I ask you.

I might read it again, if only to count up the as if's. If you can cope with the errors, and the as if's, and you have the cash to spare then give it a go, myself, I wish I'd got it from the library, and saved a few quid.
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on 1 May 2010
This one of those zombie stories that concentrates on building likable (mostly, anyway) realistic characters, ones that develop and that you care about. The zombies are ever-present but are used more as a threatening backdrop (for most of the story) rather than an overwhelming flood.

The diverse characters are thrown together and left to sort things out between themselves. This is a source of friction and tension which is maintained throughout the book, keeping you hooked. People are double-crossed, commit atrocious acts and die unexpectedly. It keeps you guessing right until the end.

Both sides of the Irish Troubles are represented by a couple of characters and this is handled very well; Wayne Simmons isn't one-sided in his portrayal of either side so there is no political bias.

The zombies are mostly Romeroesque with some subtle differences and evidence of 'evolution' in their behaviour.

It has quite an open ending that cries out for a sequel. I hope we have news soon whether this will be the case.

I thoroughly recommend this book, especially if you are a bit jaded with zombie attacks that only seem to happen in small towns in Pittsburgh.
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on 8 February 2011
FLU is one of those novels that you really wish you starred in. Not only does it have a fantastic lead character, Lark, but is set against the backdrop of a city already rocked by unrest; Belfast. The deadly outbreak of flu that does most in every winter, has mutated into something far more deadly....

Interesting to actually have characters that represent the real people of this world, with flaws, self obsessed personalities and the desire to just bury their heads in the sand. Too many other novels depict their characters being able to lead people into battle, which to me is a rather lazy way to write, FLU manages to place ordinary people in extraordinary situations with believable outcomes and responses.

The most gripping part of this novel is its ability to tap into our worries concerning the various health scares thrown at us every winter, and how quickly any bug of this type could quickly incapacitate the nation. The believability is the fact that this could really happen, and what would we do, how would we behave ?

FLU is the first part of a series and I eagerly await the next instalment, preferably before this winter .....

Drop Dead Gorgeous
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on 26 July 2011
This book passed the time for me and at times I was interested in what was going to happen next, but it never really grabbed me like some zombie fiction does. I like the idea of zombie fiction set a bit nearer to home - just read the excellent Zombie Apocalypse - but it still felt unrealistic and unrecognisable as Ireland.

The characters are very shallow and stereotypical, and I must admit, only a few hours after finishing the book, I am struggling to name any of the characters. It sticks quite closely to the popular concept of zombie, but then one of the characters gets ill with no real explanation or decent follow up.

The ending seems like it was leading in one direction with a reasonably good conclusion only to fall near the end and shamble over the finish line in normal zombie fashion.

This book is not a waste of money and is worth a read, just don't expect to be blown away, or to be gripping the book tightly as you turn each page with baited breath.
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