Sunday, 21 November 2010

Zombie Apocalypse! by Stephen Jones

I've just finished reading this novel - Zombie Apocalypse! by Stephen Jones. For a big zombie fan like myself, that was just the sort of title to grab my attention. Running to 512 pages, this is a weighty tome indeed. The story is set in the near future, starting off in London as the British government attempts to restore national pride with a New Festival of Britain. But things go disastrously wrong at a construction site on the grounds of an old church. Health and safety concerns are ignored, corners are cut and no one bothers to do a proper research of the burial site of the church that is being excavated. A centuries old plague, believed to have been responsible for the Black Death, is released, turning its victims into flesh-hungry zombies, whose bite or scratch passes the contagion on to others. This supernatural virus has the power to revive the dead. Soon what starts out as a local incident centred around the church spreads all across London and the whole country descends into chaos. When drastic measures fail to eradicate the outbreak at its source, the plague spreads quickly to mainland Europe and then across the rest of the world.
Much like Max Brooks' World War Z is told by numerous eyewitnesses, so too is Zombie Apocalypse!, although this covers many different formats to tell the complete story - text messages, e-mails, blogs, letters, diaries and transcripts. Also, it should be noted that Stephen Jones has gathered about twenty other authors to lend their voice, making this as much an anthology as a single work of fiction. It is a device that works very well as it adds authenticity to the many contributors included in this document.
As with most anthologies, some stories work better than others and this is certainly the case here. One of my favourite accounts comes near the start of the novel. It is written by Paul Finch in the style of a police sergeant's report of the events of one unforgettable and incident-packed night. There is a palpable sense of menace in the narrative and you just know that things are going to get a lot worse... and they do.
Most anthologies fail to link their stories in such a cohesive and meaningful way as Zombie Apocalypse! does. The stories, accounts and reports are laid out in a chronological order, each with their own layout style and font, making this a very visually attractive book. With so many authors involved the tone of the narratives vary from sad and sombre to laugh out loud funny (Kim Newman, I'm talking about you here. His zombie novelty track selection near the end of the book had me in stitches!).
Zombie fans ought to have a treat reading this highly recommended novel. I found it very hard to put down once I got into it. The stories are all fairly short, some just a page in length, that it is so easy to carry on reading to the next story, and the one after, and the one after that and so on!
Zombie Apocalypse! is published by Robinson and costs £7.99. Once again, I'd advise you to shop around online, where you can get it much cheaper. I ordered my copy from Amazon.UK for just £5.69, saving me over two quid. It is a book that should find a place on the bookshelves of all fans of zombie literature.

5 comments:

  1. Will have to check it out, thanks for the review.

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  2. I saw this on amazon and liked the write-up it had there - now Ive seen your review Vampi, I'm very pleased I've got it! Thanks for sharing your opinion matey

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  3. Thanks a lot for the review Bryan, immediately ordered this one.

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  4. Thanks for your comments, guys, and I'm glad to be of assistance.

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  5. Great writeup, can't wait to give it a read!

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