In The Fall,book 2 of the Strain Trilogy,we rejoin Eph,Zack,Nora,Fet,and Setrakian as they fight off the increasing vampire scourge,and also get their hands on an ancient book that may hold the key to defeating the vampires. The Fall picks up a few days after The Strain ends,and the vampires are ravaging cities across the US,spreading the virus that turns humans into creatures that definitely aren’t your momma’s vampires. Blood worms that survive in the bloodstream are the key to the virus’ transmission,and the creatures have a tentacled stinger that shoots out from the vampire’s mouth to attack and infect the victim. They’re not the handsome,dapper,romantic vamps you may be accustomed to . They’re nasty,animal-like creatures whose sole purpose are to make others like them. One disturbing trait of these vamps is the need,once turned,to return to those they loved the most in their human lives,and turn them as well. It’s an overwhelming need,and always a given with these creatures. Zack’s mother was turned and keeps trying to return for him,much to the horror of his father,Eph.
In The Fall,the creatures are terrifying,but the real focus is on our group of hunters. Eph is a former CDC scientist (as is Nora),who has been disgraced by his own organization for trying to speak the truth about what is spreading all over the world. Fet is an exterminator that has been instrumental in teaching the group about the possible behaviors of these insidious creatures (based on his experience with vermin) and is also loyal and built to fight. Zack is Eph’s young son and is struggling with the death of his mother and the horror of what is happening around him,and Nora provides a much needed female voice to the group. We get a lot of insight into Setrakian’s back story,from his time as a prisoner at the Nazi camps,through his days as a young hunter,and on to the present,and really illuminates the reason for his hatred of these vile creatures. The Fall reads a bit like a movie (which makes sense with Guillermo del Toro on board),and as much as I enjoyed the passages on Setrakian’s history,I found myself wanting to get back to the vamp-fighting action. At one point,the group teams up with a hunting group made up of former gang rivals as well as a has-been Mexican pro-wrestler,which was a highlight,and the scenes in the subway tunnels of New York City will have the little hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. All is not what it seems on the surface with the vamps though. There’s another faction of vampire that has tried to maintain somewhat of a balance with humans and is very particular about who is turned. This new race of indiscriminate vamps are seen as the ultimate threat to their existence,and they will also employ any means to exterminate them,which provides the basis for an uneasy alliance with our heroes. You’ll find yourself turning pages compulsively on the way to the shocking ending,and you’ll certainly want to move right on to the third book in the trilogy,The Eternal Night. If you love intelligent horror with strong thriller elements,nearly nonstop action,and a distinct lack of “sparkly” vampires,you’ll love this series! Not to be missed!(less)
It's been 25 years since whatever horror that started the zombie apocalypse spread throughout the world. Fifteen year old Temple, driven from the ligh...moreIt's been 25 years since whatever horror that started the zombie apocalypse spread throughout the world. Fifteen year old Temple, driven from the lighthouse she calls home, begins a harrowing journey across a ruined America. Unflinching and brutal, Temple's journey is fraught with danger, yet she eventually finds a purpose that will test her capacity for love and hope, and strengthen her will to live. I could not put this book down. I fell in love with this tough, damaged, illiterate, street smart girl as she made her way across a wasteland filled with not only unspeakable horror (there are some genuinely scary, disturbing moments), but also oasis' of beauty and humanity. Alden Bell has created a zombie novel of the highest order. In addition, he's created something rarely seen in this genre, a literary gem. (less)
Feed follows bloggers (and adoptive sister and brother) Georgia and Shaun Mason (and their respective teams) over a period of time as they cover a pivotal presidential election in a postapocalyptic US. After a virus, Kellis-Amberlee (originally meant to cure the common cold),runs rampant throughout the world, the US has slowly but surely rebuilt, reclaiming most of the country. There are however, areas of the country that cannot be retaken, and are teeming with zombies, who’s sole mission is to devour and infect. As Georgia and Shaun cover the campaign trail, things begin going horribly wrong, and knowing who to trust is becoming harder and harder. When people start dying, things get really serious.
Feed takes place in a world where blood tests greet you at every entry and exit, and hard justice is meted out on a daily basis. People have had to conform to a reality that includes not only constant blood testing, but safety measures on a grand scale, and skin to skin contact is now at a bare minimum. Public gathering? Forget about it, unless the area has been cleared for just that purpose. Kellis-Amberlee is a nasty, nasty little virus, yet Georgia lives with it on a daily basis, since she has a form of retinal KA that makes normal vision impossible. Georgia is our guiding voice here, and her strength and conviction comes across on every page, as does her absolute loyalty to her brother. Georgia is the sensible, pragmatic one, while Shaun takes chances that any sane person would scoff at, and they keep the ratings coming. Adopted by parents who’s biological child was killed during the Rising, Georgia and Shaun have built an unshakeable trust and dependency on each other, and it’s sometimes heartbreaking in it’s intensity. From page one, Feed grabs you by your neck, and refuses to let you go. The narrative is interspersed with snippets from each character’s blogs, and at times, the pace is frantic. Yes, it has zombies, and there are some truly, truly terrifying moments, but the true meat, so to speak, of this novel is in its depiction of how the media affects us in our daily lives, and how it can not only save lives, but destroy them as well. It will certainly make you think about how much we count on the news to not only keep us informed but tell us the truth, and how sometimes that’s not the case. Feed was one of those rare novels where I fell in love with the characters, and there were parts that absolutely broke my heart. I exclaimed out loud a few times, and was also moved to tears. Feed is a Hugo nominee for this year, and there’s good reason for that. The amount of research that went into this story is enormous, and the author’s attention to detail is impeccable. Feed is a raw, emotional, postapocalyptic masterpiece that will keep you glued to the pages. I implore you to make this one of your Must Reads this year. I promise you won’t regret it. (less)
“Patient Zero”,by Jonathan Maberry, follows smart-mouthed Baltimore cop Joe Ledger who, after joining a secret government agency, the Department of Military Science, or DMS, races to stop a plague from destroying the country, except this plague makes Ebola look like child’s play. This plague kills you, then re-animates you, zombie-style. Except the "zombies" in this book are not your traditional zombies. The “plague”, is, in fact, a bio-warfare virus unleashed by some of the most terrifying villains in recent thrillers.
Our hero, Ledger, is recruited into the DMS in strong-arm fashion, and is almost quite literally thrown into the fight with a team made up of men with various backgrounds. Unlike a lot of your heroes featured in modern thrillers, Ledger does not have a super secret military background, or even a long military career. In fact, his military career was quite short, however, what talents he does have, he has in spades. I’ll let you read the book to find out just how good he is at what he does.
If you've ever read any of Nelson DeMille's books featuring John Corey (Plum Island, Lion's Game, etc,), Joe Ledger will remind you of him very strongly. He's kind of a guy's guy and is very sarcastic (so you'll laugh a bit), and he gets the job done, very effectively. He kicks some pretty serious ass too, while remaining firmly in the White Hat category. Maberry has done extremely well in fleshing out his characters while simultaneously keeping the action going, which, to me, is not an easy thing to do. Ledger really struggles with the horror of what he's been thrust into, and I would hope anyone (even a kick-ass, tough guy) would.
What makes this book rise above the usual espionage/thriller novel, aside from the zombie aspect, so wildly popular right now, is its superb writing and nearly flawless pacing. Add to that villains that include a greedy billionaire; a modern day, psychotic, Mata Hari, and her equally psychotic, religious zealot husband; a mole, sent to infiltrate the good guys; plus a dash of romance, and you’ve got a book that knocks the genre on its ear and keeps you guessing (and up late) until the last pages.
I give “Patient Zero” an enthusiastic 5 out of 5 zombies, er, stars!(less)