Top positive review
British-based apocalyptic zombie action!
on 17 September 2017
12 years after the apocalypse the world is ruled by the dead, and the occupants of what might be one of the last bastions of humanity to remain contemplate survival - the chances of which appear slimmer each day. 'The Dead Walk the Earth' is the beginning of the story of how we got here...
In the present day we are introduced to the members of a British military team so specialist - more so even than the fabled SAS - that officially they dont exist. No record of them can ever be found, no acknowledgement of their actions ever made, and each of their members is officially listed as having been killed in action to protect their identities - identities that are changed after each and every mission.
One such mission occurs in Sierra Leone, where the seemingly routine assassination of an African warlord suddenly becomes much more complicated by the arrival of a new enemy that cant be stopped by conventional means, cant be negotiated with, and will never ever stop - the living dead!
What follows is the slow descent into chaos as the undead slowly spread to every corner of the world - including the British Isles where the authorities there try their best to identify the cause of the infection, evacuate the population, whilst combating the ever increasing number of people who die as a result of it only to rise again and attempt to consume the living, with the books protagonists at the knife edge of the battle for survival...
'The Dead Walk the Earth' is a read that utilises pretty much every trope of the zombie genre. The source of the outbreak is unknown, the world doesnt believe what they can see with their own eyes, and the authorities - who have known the truth of the matter for long enough to do something about it - fail to do so because of their reluctance to let the truth be made public, resulting in pretty much the entire country getting eaten.
The stars of the book are done somewhat by the numbers - a 'man of few words' squad leader, a hulking machine-gunner, an angry Scotsman, a welshman called 'Taff', and a few others who generally just make up the numbers for a bunch of badasses who have more than a hint of Schwarzeneggers team from the film Predator.
Despite this the book still manages to be hugely entertaining and exciting with no shortage of action and even plenty of humour. Honestly, the author won me over when he had one of his characters use a zombie as a matress, and use the dead mans sock as a recepticle to obtain drinking water from a turd-filled toilet bowl!
I also found it endearing because - where as the vast majority of books of the genre are located in the United States - this one is primarily based right here in good old Blighty. The team are also distinctly and appealingly British, theres enough military jargon and lingo thrown into their dialogue to suggest that the author may have served himself or is at least well read enough to really know his stuff, and it never feels forced or anything less that authentic, and results in the team being a bunch of fellas who entertain pretty much everytime they open their mouths.
Its tense too. The zombies in this series are more akin to Danny Boyles infected from '28 Days later', or Zach Snyders 2004 'Dawn of the Dead' remake, retaining for the most part the mobility and speed they had in life, but with the endless stamina and viciousness they now have in un-death, which means - as good as our team is - there is always that pervasive feeling of dread and threat, and it never feels as if our guys are indestructable. Indeed, some of them prove not to be...
The book isnt without its faults however (tropes of the genre aside). My biggest issue with it being the team being sent off in the middle of a crucial evacuation of only the most essential personnel in order to retrieve a completely non-essential low level royal and his family from their stately home in Scotland, being introduced to the plot it seemed for no reason other than to provide some kind of excuse to land the team up the creek without a paddle more than they already were.
Then we have the team being declared completely expendible assets despite the entire book making it quite clear that they were anything but, just so theres an excuse to provide a reason to show just how inexpendible the team is by having them make their way back to safety using nothing but their own ingenuity.
All in all though the book is still well worth the price of purchase and I'll definately be picking up the next volume because I'm intrigued enough by the tantalising glimpse that the author gives us of the somewhat distant future to want to know how we get there.