Saturday 20 September 2014

The Zombie Apocalypse Doesn't Change Just The Dead

What I love about David Moody's work is that it's genuinely horrifying, and not just because of zombies or diseases that cause complete violence. No, it's often the living people in his stories who are as terrifying as whatever is trying to kill them. It's been a while since I've read an old fashioned zombie survival story, and while Isolation contains four additional zombie short stories, I can't deny that Moody's story was the most memorable, unquestionably my favorite and reminding me again why he's one of my favorite authors. Note: Minor spoilers to follow...

I love the old, used, bloody paperback look going on here!
Isolation follows an insecure young man named Keith who works at a dull job on the week days, and the rest of his time taking care of his alcoholic father. At least until the zombie apocalypse turns his world upside down. Aside from the thousands of undead roaming the streets, Keith has nothing to worry about. He feels freer than ever before. But his new outlook on life is put to the test when he meets Anna, the polar opposite of him. As they try to survive in an abandoned house, it soon becomes apparent that if the undead don't kill each other, they'll do it themselves...

There's a reason why horror authors like the zombie trope. Sure, you have virtually the same monster (unless you decide not to), but the story you tell is never the same. Individual people don't react to the apocalypse the same, and it's always the individuals who are more interesting than the collective. Such is the idea behind Moody's story. It's about people changing and adapting in extreme situations.

Both Keith and Anna have amazing structure an arcs. I enjoyed Anna's tough exterior, which turned out to be a facade when it cracked even a little. She revealed a new side of herself, and I was beginning to wonder if I would want her on my side if the dead start rising.

However, Keith had a my favorite transition. His growth from a timid, quiet individual to full on Rambo was beautifully paced and made for a powerful ending. I want to say that Keith became a better person, but the twist is that while he was a threat to the zombies, he was also a threat to Anna. He becomes desperate to hold onto his new lifestyle, domineering and controlling, and in some ways abusive.

David Moody has always been a very strong writer in that regard, creating characters and scenarios that make you hope and pray we don't live to see the apocalypse. He's a master at building tension and delivers excellent, climactic endings.

The other four short stories rounding out the novel– Who We Used To Be, Tightropes, Muriel, and Wish I Was Here, were the icing on a story I enjoyed from beginning to end. A definite recommendation for all fans of the zombie/horror genre, and anybody looking for a great read during October. Yeah, I know it's not Halloween yet, but stock up now. If the zombie apocalypse happens tomorrow and you're trapped inside your house, you don't want to be bored, do you?


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