Reviewed by Mike Chinn
Here’s an interesting slant on the zombie genre: instead of the usual unknown disease animating the dead, there’s a blinding light and everybody on the planet disappears – to reappear some days later … changed. I say everybody, but obviously there have to be some survivors – if that’s the word – the plucky few who slowly gravitate together and find themselves up against the returning population.
The returned neatly defy many of the zombie clichés: initially slow and lumbering, they become more co-ordinated and deadly; all are wearing dark glasses and gloves, even though they tend to come out when it’s dark; and weirdest of all, they exhibit an amazing ability to turn bog-standard cars and buses into flying vehicles straight out of Bladerunner. So where – obviously not on Earth – have they been?
My biggest problem with this introductory volume is the massive hiatus at the beginning. Crowther wastes no time setting up the mass disappearance – but we have to wait some 200 pages before they start to come back again. 200 pages wherein those left behind – for whatever reason – stumble around not doing an awful lot. And if the walking dead avoid stereotype, I’m afraid the same can’t be said for the human cast.
Young girl with psychic abilities: check; murderous psychopath and probable paedophile: check; loving, long-married couple whose close relationship is begging for trouble: check; slightly crazy lady with multiple personalities: check… Though there’s a woman DJ who just has to have been inspired by Adrienne Barbeau from Carpenter’s The Fog.
I was also irritated by the author’s habit of throwing in paragraphs of minor characters’ back-story whenever we first meet them. In one scene a returned deputy sheriff gets a whole page of folksy anecdotes right after he looms menacingly out of the night. It kills all the tension stone dead.
That said, once the action gets going, Crowther doesn’t let up. Chapters barrel past; blood and guts spray in all directions in a suitably OTT manner. A fun take on a familiar sub-genre – just a shame it takes so long to get properly going.