Tuesday, February 10, 2009
by Brian Keene
Immediately on the heels of Mr Remic's novel Biohell, I was treated to another novel that would undoubtedly be classified as adult leaning, "The Rising" by Brian Keene.
The Rising picks up as the plague is in progress, opening the story on a central character Jim who wants nothing more than to be reunited with his estranged child, the only problem of course being that his son Danny is no where close to his current hide out, and there is a particular problem of vast hordes of blood thirsty zombies clogging the roads that lead to reunion. Joining forces with a preacher and an ex-hooker, they struggle to survive the bleak new reality.
One thing I want to make blatant: This novel (and others by Mr. Keene) are not for the faint of heart or the slightly squeemish. They're raw, they're graphic at at points you'll be left wondering if you should not call the authorities to preemptively commit Brian Keene to the closest mental institute.
I try not to reveal too much of the story (it's about zombies: Killing people and being killed) but I try to pick out a few elements from novels I find interesting. In this novel it's particularly both the origin of the zombies and how they interact.
In "The Rising" (and its sequel City of the Dead) the zombies are a manifestation of demons allowed into this world through a rending of the dimensional fabric. Every living entity that leaves this existence, allows in another demonic power to possess the empty husk (that must be a seriously large deli ticket machine to determine which creature gets to go in first). Brian has set up an interesting pathos that explains why this occurs, but the unusual part is how it lends intelligence to the zombies. They use tools, they speaks and they taunt their opponents. It creates a palpable level of dislike for the zombies; not only are they the desecration of your friends and loved ones, they now mock you before tearing out your intestines.
Most of the zombie novels I've read, of course make the undead to be the enemy. Lending them speech and motivation provides another level of evil. Most zombies we get. They're hungry, hell, I'm hungry now, and they want nothing more than a steaming bowl of guts. It's a base instinct we can all relate too and at times it shifts the perception of the zombies to almost an animal like parallel; we begin to view them more as just 'wild things' and new predators on the top of the food chain; dangers to be sure, but ultimately lesser creatures. The addition of speech and scheming however creates a whole new level of insidious threat (and conversely vindictive glee when they're obliterated.); they're not longer wild things, but vile, evil creatures intent on your death and desecration and they love their work.
If you like your zombie novels dead and dirty, you won't be disappointed with this book.