To paraphrase Marillion's Script For A Jesters Tear, here I am once more, in the playground of the zombie novel, one more experience, one more entry in a blog self penned.
Considering my distaste of the rotted blotted corpse of the zombie genre, I always seem to, like a fat blue bottle, return to feed on its corpse one last time. As far as meals go though, this was a an extremely pleasant, if somewhat unsettling experience.
This is in all but name a Mammoth Book of Zombies, however unlike the other books in this series that I have read, the contained stories all tie together to create on coherent narrative. Set in the near future the book details first the UK's decent into zombiedon, and then the worlds. The story is told via a series of articles, diary entries tweets, and official reports. In the main this method of telling the story works, the narrative flows along nicely and there is a good degree of tension built up. I particularly liked the Twitter segments of the book, the constraints of the 140 character entry may sound limiting, but it really does help to convey the sense of panic, and hopelessness of the twitterer in question. I also really enjoyed how not all of the entries, were from a military point of view, by having tweets, emails etc from civilians really helped to give this book an emotional core, that is often lacking in zombie novels.
One of the main problems with a zombie novel is making the zombies relevant, if your zombies are just the basic shambling coffin dodgers, then you have to make your story completely about the survivors and this is where a lot of zombie books fail. Just how many times can you read about a group of people holed up in a supermarket. This book gets around that problem, by giving the zombies something more than just the basic shamble and eat way of life. By giving the hoard a figurehead who is in possession of an intellect and an agenda, lifts this book from being mundane. Yes I know this idea has been done before in Brian Keene's The Rising and David Moody's Monster Island, it doesn't stop this book from feeling fresh. I for one was hooked on finding out just who exactly Zombie Zero was.
Overall I enjoyed this book a great deal, the only thing that stopped the book from being an excellent read, was the closing segments of the book. To be fair, Stephen Jones gave himself a tough challenge in creating a linked story anthology, where the standard story form is in the main thrown out. So it is probably no surprise that creating a completely satisfying conclusion to this book would be difficult. It just felt as though one too many rabbits were pulled put of the hat to make the ending work.
However despite the weak ending I would have no difficulty in recommending this book. This is a book that succeeds in doing something different in an overworked genre, whilst still remaining highly entertaining. no mean feat indeed.