Review of ‘Swarm’

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John’s in a dead end job, only staying because of his devotion to his wife and son. When a sick man enters his shop, life takes a distinct downward turn, not just for John, but for the whole world. What’s causing people to turn into flesh-eating zombies? John goes on the run with other survivors, but can he really do anything?

Swarm by Alex South is a zombie apocalypse novel set in London. Despite being a bit choppy, it’s an interesting take on the subgenre, with its focus on the individuals impacted by the ‘plague.’ Chillingly graphic descriptions of zombie attacks might be a bit much for the fainthearted, but zombie fans will eat it up—no pun intended.

Because of the choppy prose, I give it three and a half stars.

Review of ‘Mutation Z: Protecting Our Own’

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As the crisis continues war breaks out between militias and those seen as protecting the newly transformed zombies. Hunter Morgan, whose daughter has somehow been infected by a variant of Mutation Z, finds himself in the crosshairs of Clay Dixon, a militia leader. With a near breakdown of law and order, Morgan, now allied with survivors of a government test lab in Liberia, must go on the run with his family if they are to survive—if anyone is to survive.

Mutation Z: Protecting our Own by Marilyn Peake is not the usual zombie apocalypse story. Instead of focusing on shambling zombies roaming the night eating human brains, the author shows how zealots, unregulated government actions, and corporate greed can all contribute to a breakdown of order in a society. She also shows how a few individuals with strong spirit can fight back.

Another interesting addition to the Mutation Z series that ends of something of a cliffhanging note—now the author will have a challenge to deliver a satisfying ending to this series—or, will she? I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Mutation Z: Closing the Border’

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When mutilated bodies start turning up on both sides of the US-Mexican border, journalist Hunter Morgan starts looking into what could turn out to be the most important—and dangerous—story of his career. In the meantime, health volunteer Emma Johnson and her friend Dr. Chibueze Koroma are still being held in the Ebola camp in Liberia where they’re experimented on with the compound, Mutation Z. From Texas to Liberia, Morgan chases a story, revealing that the government is in league with a pharmaceutical company to produce an army of zombies, and it is willing to kill to keep the program secret. Worse, as the mutation gets out of government control, it sparks a reaction from fringe elements in American society that further add to the chaos.

Mutation Z: Closing the Borders by Marilyn Peake picks up where the first book left off, and the suspense is ratcheted up several notches as new characters and plot lines are introduced. Wild, conspiracy theory related, unbelievable; all these descriptions can be applied to this book—this entire series. But, it’s presented in such a way that a reader doesn’t really have to suspend disbelief—it’s only necessary to take the current headlines or those of the recent past and ask, could there be more to this than meets the eye—and then realize that, yes there could.

Quick reads, competently written. If you’re into zombie thrillers, give them a look-see. I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Voyage of the Dead’

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On April 1, the world as most people knew it came to a violent and bloody end. A virus related to the rabies virus somehow spread worldwide in a matter of weeks and infected millions, turning them into ravenous, flesh-eating zombies. Their victims also became zombies, and the world’s cities were turned into charnel houses, with only pockets of uninfected survivors, such as Carl Stiller, hanging on for dear life against what appear to be insurmountable odds.

One small group, 107 passengers on Scott Allen’s luxury cruise ship, Sovereign Spirit, a thousand miles off the Pacific Coast and heading for Cabo San Lucas when Armageddon struck, is untouched by the virus. Under Allen’s leadership, the group must find a way to survive the epidemic and contend with the surviving government bureaucracy.

If you’re a fan of zombie apocalypse stories, you’ll love Voyage of the Dead by David P. Forsyth. Filled with action and suspense, the story switches back and forth between Carl Stiller’s efforts to survive in a besieged Los Angeles and Scott Allen’s attempt to retain control and order aboard his vessel. The author paints a chilling picture of human society in the midst of crisis, with fairly fully-fleshed characters as they deal with life-or-death situations. The premise, that a virus could spread globally in a short period of time, but somehow skip a ship at sea, is a bit light – but, probably no different than the zombie movies that fail to explain how so many people in an area become zombies while others are uninfected. In that sense, the book is more thriller than science fiction – despite a pretty good use of modern day technology and social media.

The reader is left hanging a bit at the end – but, this is supposedly the first book in a series, so perhaps the author used a semi-cliffhanger ending to entice people to read the next volume. It was still a relatively satisfying read, so I give it three stars.

Review of “The Fifth Empire” by K. P. Ambroziak

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Little vampire

Given the current obsession with vampire/zombie movies and books, you might think that the last thing you need to read is another vampire novel. K. P. Ambroziak’s The Fifth Empire: The Journal of Vincent du Maurier, though is a vampire novel that takes a completely new direction.

It’s 2052, and Vincent du Maurier is leader of a clan of vampires that, due to the lack of human blood upon which to feed, and a virus that is now fatal to vampires, is on the verge of extinction. To make matters worse, the land is overrun by zombies who feed on vampire flesh – turning the vampire into a zombie in the process.

When Vincent and his group find three healthy humans, one of whom is a pregnant woman, it sets the clan on a course that none could have predicted. Could the fate of vampires and humans be intertwined? K. P. Ambroziak, with a combination of narrative that swings from gritty to delicate, and dialogue that gives you the feeling that you’re snooping on private conversations, managed to convince this reviewer that this is within the realm of possibility.

Ambroziak tells her story from the point of view of the vampire Vincent, a daring thing to do, given that any author desires that readers sympathize with your main character. Vincent is hard to sympathize with – he comes through, though, as a complex character – bad to the bone, but with a tiny streak of compassion beneath his pale, undead exterior, and even though his heart doesn’t beat, he is capable on occasion of almost human feeling.

I’m  giving The Fifth Empire four stars for its excellent writing, tightly woven plot, and sheer entertainment value.

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