I don’t mind dark books and I don’t mind anti-heroes. A little bit of grittiness is just fine. The important thing is finding the right balance. The Road is about as dark as world as one can imagine, but the book never feels completely hopeless. It’s never a slog, and that’s because we’re rooted in the story because we really care about the father and son. This is where Necropolis Now really missteps, and it’s a shame because there’s a lot of potential here.
The big problem I had with Necropolis Now is that I hated pretty much every character. There was no one for me to really associate with, because they all seemed to be awful, awful people. Of course, a few did seems to have the odd good trait or two, but it was never enough to overcome the preponderance of negativity.
And that’s something I struggled a lot with. This is a story about the zombie apocalypse. I shouldn’t (and don’t) expect rainbows and unicorns. A lot of the people who survive the initial chaos are probably going to be bad people who don’t struggle so much with morally ambiguous – or just plain evil – choices. I get that, but from a narrative standpoint, focusing only on bad people doing back things is just not engaging.
Or perhaps I’m just not the right audience.
Like I said, this misstep is a real shame, because Necropolis Now is a really well written story, and the author is clearly very passionate about it. That’s hard to find. I read a lot of zombie fiction, and most of it isn’t very good, especially when it comes to the quality of writing. Here, the writing is excellent. The writer obviously has a rich lexicon and a gift for imagery. He doesn’t fall back on using the same words and trite descriptions ad infinitum, which is incredible refreshing.
The book is also set in Detroit, which I find incredibly interesting. As a life-long Michigander who lived in Metro-Detroit for a decade or so, it was really cool to be able to plot the geography of the action of the story. I love seeing familiar landmarks showing up within the narrative, and trying to figure out where people might be going based on the area.
While this might not be as interesting for people who aren’t familiar with the area, I always appreciate it when I writer can invest in a solid understanding of where things are in relationship to one another in a story.
There are also a lot of interesting ideas in the book, specifically how the zombie apocalypse comes to be (don’t worry, there are no spoilers ahead). This is teased out throughout the course of the story, and we’re fed little bits of information as we progress. It’s one of the most engaging parts of the story, and I was definitely interested in learning more.
While I ultimately didn’t like Necropolis Now, I do have to admire the quality of writing and the commitment from the writer. It’s not my cup of tea, but I think readers who like their stories a little grittier than me would appreciate it.