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FLU By Wayne Simmons – Reviewed

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2011 by stanleyriiks

A few years ago zombie novels were like gold-dust. Now they’re ten a penny. Most are bog standard zombie rehashes, offering nothing new. The king of zombie fiction is Brian Keene, whose zombie novels create a sense of undeniable dread and looming, unstoppable danger. So the question is, does Simmons have anything to offer, and can be usurp the king?

Sadly the answer is both yes and no.

Flu is a post-apocalyptic zombie novel, focusing on the further spread of the disease which kills and then brings you back, and the few survivors in Belfast as they try to stay alive as long as possible, seeking out supplies, grouping together with other non-dead humans, and having to deal with the dead-fucks. The story uses sectarian issues and guilt, police, army and civilian survivors in a nice mix, which gives the book its edge.

This isn’t The Walking Dead rehashed in Belfast. Although there are clear homages to Romero’s trilogy and other zombie movies.

The story has some brutal and some disgusting moments, which help take it beyond the average, but what really put this book ahead of most of the rest is Simmons easy and efficient writing style (polished to within an inch of its life), and his characters, all of which suffer their own personal demons they have to battle along with the zombies. The humans really are the heroes of this novel, a tough sell, but one that works in this case.

The UK is bereft of zombie novels, the only decent one I can remember is the composite novel created by Stephen Jones and loads of others, Zombie Apocalypse, the exceptional London-based zombie novel told ingeniously in a series of documents.

While Flu isn’t an inventive as Jones’ effort, it still works very well and is a massively satisfying zombie novel that creates a dead world you want to explore further, and leaves enough questions for us to want to read the sequel, Fever, coming in the summer. And Flu definitely shows Simmons’ massive potential to become Great Britain’s crown prince of zombie fiction.

Not perfect, but a damn good try. Zombie fans will love it, horror fans will love it. Simmons writes like a demon, smooth and dangerous. Zombie fiction with an edge.

DARKER By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Richard Young, his wife and their four year old daughter Amy wave off Mark, their eldest child as he goes camping with friends. Little knowing that this week, while their son is away, they will be in a race for their lives across the UK, fighting to stay alive as they are chased round the country by a huge, invisible, crushing thing. They are joined in their plight by a multi-millionaire, Michael, who believes what he calls “the beast” can be controlled and he has a team of scientists trying to work out how to contain the ancient power.

This has a fairly slow start, not really much happening for the first sixty or seventy pages, as everyone is introduced and the happy family angle is played up. But when the action does kick it it’s full steam ahead, a frantic chase as the beast chases the family and their visitor Michael, who drip-feeds them information. All the while they are also chased by Rosemary Snow who is somehow linked to Amy, and knows just what a bad man Michael really is. He tried to kill her.

Mmm… While you’re reading this it’s actually quite good, typical thriller, full-on action which doesn’t give you a chance to think. You go along with the story because it keeps you entertained, you ignore the implausibility because it’s fun, you ignore the lack of good characters because the story sweeps you up. And it really does, despite its many errors and mistakes, and a complete disregard for the use of the comma, the story sweeps you up like a whirlwind, swings you round and won’t let you go till it’s finished with you and chucks you out the other end! Ok, so we don’t really care what happens to these people, the explanations are fairly implausible and at times ridiculous, as though the plot hasn’t really been thought out that much. But this is like a rollercoaster ride of a novel, you enjoy it while you’re enthralled in the action, despite the fact you’re left wondering “was that it?” at the end.

Clark is a much better writer than this book shows him to be. Fun, exciting, but lacking in substance.