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Smashwords book reviews by Wekoslav Stefanovski
- Fire (Elements of the Undead Book One)
on May 29, 2012
There are a handful of issues that just rub me the wrong way about this book. First of all, I understand that it's part of a series, but even then, I expect for each part of the series to stand more-or-less on it's own. Not this book. This is just a development for a story that will be (maybe) told later. While the characters are nicely constructed and realistic, the plot goes either too fast or too slow, and at the end gets nowhere.
Furthermore most zombie-related works either focus on the initial impact of the dead rising (Night of the Living Dead) or on the psychological aftermath of the apocalypse (Walking Dead). This book tries to sit on both chairs, and, IMHO fails miserably.
Warning: Here there be spoilers.
Right off the bat we are presented with a laundry list of characters. After the fifth or sixth chapter that dealt with a new character introduction I kinda lost track of who was who. On the up side, most of the characters presented had a nice quality about them, even if they were a bit stereotypical (e.g. the hooker with a heart of gold).
However, there are some characters that are heavily introduced in the lead-up, and then given supporting background roles. For the life of me I don't understand why we need to know that Alicia was a cashier - she doesn't even get a speaking part in the latter half of the book, or why Peter, a disposable goon at best, got his own chapter. Yet, the worst example is Kevin. He is given a few chapters, he is rounded off well, he is a nice and relatable character, and he is then killed off page, with barely a mention.
Anyway, after the lengthy introduction, the zombies rise, and they rise FAST. Unlike other works where the apocalypse last weeks and months, here the world is overrun in an afternoon. The dead turn and rise within minutes. I like that no explanation is given why, although I would not mind having a better glimpse of the panic that overtook society. Also, I find that the army's response to the undead threat - nuke everything, ask questions later - is implausible, and I feel that the submarine scene would have been better had the captain not been so pathologically trigger happy.
We then jump to a three months later part, and are served with a few chapters where the three months that passed are explained. The point of moving three months in time, and then reiterating those three months again is beyond me. Most of the characters we are introduced early on are finally at the same place. Here, the focus of the book shifts away from the zombies, to the internal power struggles that plague their little community and the inevitable clash with the rag-tag band of misfits that the psychotic captain of the submarine has assembled. This drudges on for several chapters, and then the book ends. No resolution, no final victory, not even a one-on-one showdown.
The novel is not without some merit, though. The story of Jack is well thought out and emotionally written. It shows some real potential, and I wish the rest of the book was up on the same level of quality.