Zombie Book Review: Rise of the Hordeon January 8, 2013 at 12:00 am
We love zombie stories. We love road trip stories. Devan Sagliani combines the best of both genres in Zombie Attack: Rise of the Horde. Simply, during the zombie apocalypse, Xander and Benji hit the road for the base where Xander’s military brother has been assigned. Around this idea, Sagliani adds everything from herds of zombies and too-perfect safe havens to cannibals and Hollywood starlets. Like a great comic, there is something for everyone in this novel.
Let’s begin with Xander. This young man, a sixteen year-old martial arts and Katana expert, has a completely believable voice and Sagliani uses him to flawlessly describe both the characters’ current situation as well the past events that got them there. Xander is determined to find his brother and will let nothing keep him from his goal.
Benji, on the other hand, is an adorable twelve year-old bundle of baggage that Xander gladly totes around. These two are bound by a loyalty forged by tragedy, mutual need and genuine love. To illustrate this, Sagliani often allows Xander and Benji to chit-chat with seemingly meaningless dialog that later builds into background stories. It is this dialog that fills out these two characters and the strength of their relationship. In these moments, I hear conversations between my nephew and my son. Because of this, I found Xander and Benji to be relatable and genuine characters.
Did I mention that this is a road trip? Starting as a group of four, Xander leads his troop through one outrageous situation after another. Their first obstacle is John and the people of New Lompoc, a community working to regain normality. They work together peacefully to defend against an enemy biker gang called Unity. Or are they? Is John really such a great guy? Is Tank really a devoted second? Hmmmm? Better yet, how about letting that Hollywood starlet negotiate her way out of trouble? With a post-apocalyptic biker gang? While you wait? And wait until you meet cult leader Bryan Crowe; fun!
So, just as a comic book takes no real break between story lines and action, Rise gives the reader little time to breath. Fortunately, Sagliani acknowledges the unlikelihood of so many barriers and ridiculous situations happening back to back. Literally, I read Xander asking “WTF, again?” at the same time I thought it. This speaks volumes about Sagliani’s understanding of the reader. I’m willing to suspend disbelief for just about anything but give me credit for having a brain and a limit. Thanks Devan for doing that.
Finally, what really brings this entertaining story together is Sigliani’s writing style. He turns violence into poetry. Here is his description of a Molotov cocktail:
“As the bottle hurtles toward him it spun less, the force of gravity correcting it until it right side up with the thick bottom rushing down to kiss the asphalt. The flaming rag atop the bottle merrily danced like a wild-eyed, redheaded seductress, lost in the epiphany of the impending destruction it wantonly foretold.”
These types of descriptions flow from the pages beautifully and present the reader with a painting of the action. Again, like a frame from a comic, you can almost feel the heat of the cocktail from the description above.
Zombie Attack: Rise of the Horde is a very entertaining read with well-rounded characters and hilarious situations. Saliani is a gifted writer and I am anxious to see what he has up next.