Zombie Book Review: Rise

It is often said that there is nothing new under the sun; looking for complete originality in something is generally a fool’s errand. However, while you can’t exactly expect completely new plots and characters in a novel, you should be able to count on the author spinning them in a new, interesting way. That is perhaps why I was so disappointed in Rise, a zombie novel by Gareth Wood.

But let me refine that a bit. Rise wasn’t a bad novel, it was simply disappointing because I had expected something a little bit more. Instead of innovation, I got a throwback, and there is plenty of room for both in the zombie fiction landscape.

Like quite a few zombie survival books, Rise is written in journal format from the perspective of the protagonist, although at one point another character substitutes for a chapter. Also like a lot of zombie survivor stories, this book originated as a blog, which explains the format. Interestingly, the character points out that the narrative is written on a laptop, rather than handwritten. Keeping a computer running through the story isn’t anything we waste a lot of time with, but it seems to be far more trouble than it would ever be worth. Other than serving as a place for the main character’s journal, it doesn’t seem like the laptop has any other function. So why bother with solar chargers, taking risks to get replacement parts, etc. when a notepad would serve the exact same purpose.

I don’t dislike journal-based stories on the whole (I’m a huge fan of Day by Day Armageddon), but I think they’re difficult things to pull of well. On the one hand, you get a very good idea of the principal character. You’re reading his/her perspective on the entire story, and in their own words to boot. The trade-offs are that you never feel that the protagonist is in danger, because without them the story just ends. It is also more difficult to develop other characters because you are stuck in a single perspective. Those trade-offs can be worked into a pretty spectacular story, but Rise doesn’t quite manage to pull it off.

The other thing that disappointed me about this book was that, unlike 90% of the zombie stories I’ve read, it’s not set in the United States with the liberal gun control laws we’ve all come to know and love. No, Rise is set in Canada, and I was very interested to see how this might affect the story. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really seem to have any affect at all. Guns and ammunition are still in abundance throughout the story.

Despite my disappointment and misgivings, I will say the Rise tells a pretty compelling story. The zombies are old school, there are raiders, and badasses. People get devoured, we raid supplies and hotwire cars. It’s a fun throwback with one pretty interesting curveball thrown into the third act. Different expectations probably would have affected my enjoyment.

Grade: 3 zombie heads

Rise is published by Permuted Press



I’m not a fan of the zombie blog. I tried to read a few from the contest your awesome website was in and just couldn’t get into them.

Your review did make me wonder – how often do laptops need spare parts? If there is no internet to slip viruses your way, what else could go wrong? Old age?

And where do you get juice for a laptop when the grid goes down?

I’m confused. lol


In normal life, laptops shouldn’t need spare parts often (although I’ve replaced more than my fair share working tech support).

However, in the zombie apocalypse when you’re on the run, I’d expect the failure rate to go up significantly. All that jostling around, cramming it into bags, dropages, etc. That’s bound to affect things, especially when there are moving parts.

As far as charging goes, he mentions solar charging it several times. I appreciated that.


Haha, it’s a fun conversation you got there… but it’s interesting to see how a detail in the story can possibly affect your perception of the rest (much like your reaction to the EMP gun this other book..)


I’m the same way about the details. If something just doesn’t mesh, it throws off the whole book for me.


I must admit that the idea of using a computer under such circumstances is really strange and it would probably disturb me as well.
Maybe it’s a product placement strategy?

Let’s check an extract of the book:

“After a long and miserable day of scavenging I finally returned to my camp. An expired can of peaches and a bag of chips was all I could find… and I would have to make it last. At least the zeds gave me a break, only saw a few and they did not notice me.
After having performed my usual perimeter check I allowed myself a moment to rest. I drew my Mac book from my backpack – for a few seconds I admired the faint reflection of the vanishing daylight on his smooth aluminum cover. This machine was so thin an light that I could barely feel it, it nevertheless made me feel human again, a testimony of a past civilized era.”

Mmmh no.. I don’t see anything wrong here.


Dust would be another issue.

And yeah, details like this undermine a story for me. I’m probably being nitpicky and pedantic here, but it really stuck out to me.


Yeah the EMP gun is when my last shred of hope flew out the window.

Good review Dave!


Now, that’s a serious issue you raise here Angie… and have you thought about after sale service? It is already difficult nowadays to get a hold of a decent service desk.. so picture this in the heat of a Zombie Apocalypse!
Survivor in despair: “The zeds are at my door, they are going to get in any seconds now.. my computer refuses to shutdown properly… can I unplug it?”
HD: “Thank you for calling Tech Support, all our lines are busy please stand by..”


Along with everything else that has been listed here, I just don’t think he would be prepared enough to have a bag in the car ready to go but he AND his sister forgot their cell phones. Yeah right that would happen. Also, unless they were estranged from their parents – and that is not the case, most people would NOT assume their parents were dead and simply write them off. They didn’t even try to get to their parents yet risked their lives to rescue a DJ, Jess, the people in the store etc and even a cat and a horse. Yes they rescued a cat and a horse and brought them along. I just feel like the author could have written yada yada yada and summed it all up!

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