Mort. That’s the name of the hero in this book, also called Mort. Not a very impressive sounding name, is it? Well neither is the guy himself. Out of breath after a light jog due to years of sitting on a stool in his comic book shop, Mort isn’t the type of main character who normally graces the pages of a zombiepocolypse book. Instead you’d expect a hero who dons a tactical vest while slapping clips into a carbine, but only while in-between tossing grenades at the tidal wave of zombie hordes that are coming his way. Mort isn’t like that.
This is a story about a normal guy who is trying to survive one day to the next after the apocalypse. A note about that apocalypse: he missed the beginning of it since he is such a hard sleeper, and didn’t even realized it had happened until he saw an employee being chased. Mort is, without a doubt, the most memorable main character – not to mention all around unique zombie book – that I have ever read. Mort is flavored with laugh out loud moments while still maintaining its horror base and tension. It takes skillful writing to accomplish that, and Mort somehow never stops being serious while dispensing well-placed humor.
Nothing about Mort is formulaic; it thrives in its cleverness.
Identifiable characters can elevate trash to passable entertainment, and make a good story great. In Mort‘s case, the character development is done both organically and believably. By the end we end up seeing a little bit of Mort in all of us, and I think we all know someone a like his brash sidekick, Pete. I don’t know if it was just the love for an everyman hero, but I was cheering for Mort throughout the story.
And if zombies aren’t enough for you, there is another supernatural group, who has been hidden in the shadows of humanity for centuries and add a significant twist to the story. Chances are you will figure out what they are, as hints are subtly laid out, but the ending was nonetheless a complete shock and unique enough to where an entire books series could be written based on the idea – and I hope that’s exactly what happens.
The book is also incredibly graphic at times, and I will gladly admit there were several parts of the book that literally made me cringe in disgust. But it wasn’t vileness for the sake of vileness, or cheap gore to keep up the horror novel aesthetic. Those cringing moments fit, and they fit perfectly to either advance the story or give it additional depth. As a pretty big fan of Rod’s collective work, I recognize such moments as an indelible part of his style and appreciate that he never simply jams something into a story for shock value. He is simply too good of a writer for such cheap genre crutches.
I bring this up because some of the more ghastly scenes, as well as Pete’s harsh language, have received criticism from reviewers, which is quite honestly bizarre when considering Mort and the rest of Rod’s work is clearly in the horror genre. Let’s face fact: sometimes people do and say things to each other that are far worse than anything a monster is capable of. I love the fact that Mort, along with the rest of Rod’s work, will leave me thinking about that even after I am done with a book. It’s horror that sticks with you long after the book is back on the shelf.
My one issue with Mort was I felt it was a bit too short. I was left wanting more. But then again I don’t feel like it was missing anything so maybe it was just right.
At this time this is Rod Redux’s only foray into the zombiepocolypse but he does have plans for a Mort prequel.
Want to learn more about Mort and Rod’s other work? Check out his blog.