Saturday, May 03, 2014

A Few Words on Resurrection: A Zombie Novel, by Michael J. Totten

Resurrection: A Zombie Novel

I don't read horror fiction for the simple fact that it terrifies me due to my vivid imagination, so I was faced with a dilemma when Michael Totten announced the publication of his very own 'zombie' novel, for I've been reading his journalism several years now, and I like his writing on the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe, various places where the West dwindles and ends.

Totten's zombie novel is the same sort of story -- as I discovered when I finally manned up and read the thing -- the end of Western Civilization, world civilization, for that matter, and the emergence of barbarism in the form of zombies who spread like a plague and attack like jihadis hyped up on angel dust, for they create nothing, preserve nothing, and destroy everything, whether through intent or inadvertence, as a hardy crew of human survivors see from a sailboat they've manned in an attempt to find safety by sailing to an island:
They couldn't see Seattle yet. Vashon Island stood in the way. They'd have to clear that before they could see the big city. The glow on the clouds above the city, though, was clearly visible above the dark hills in the distance.

But the power wasn't on. The glow was flickering. And the color was off. It wasn't yellow or white. It was orange.

"That's not city light we're looking at," Hughes said.

And that wasn't a cloud over the city. It was a column of smoke the size of a mountain. (p. 177)
With the breakdown of civilization, everything goes to hell. Seattle is experiencing a firestorm, and zombies are undoubtedly frying to a crisp (not that that's a bad thing). But nature, in all its dreadful mystery, goes on:
The Olympic Peninsula produced the only true temperate rain forest on earth. Not even the other lush forests of Washington and Oregon are like the forests in the Olympics. Everything's wet all the time. Baby trees grow from the sides of fallen dead trees, sucking nutrients from their predecessors like cannibals. Curtains of moss the size of houses hang from the canopy . . . . [in a forest of] midnight . . . darkness . . . . [without] even stars[,] . . . . [a] world . . . shrouded in pitch . . . . [and thick with] hungry, 350-pound [creatures] . . . just waiting . . . [to tear] to pieces by claws and by teeth. (p. 38-39)
Totten's point, in part, is that the zombies are as natural as those cannibalizing 'Baby trees' and those lurking hungry teeth, and that if you're going to survive the collapse of civilization, you've got to recognize that nature isn't always benign. Neither are people. This is the collapse of civilization . . .

Totten's novel is genuinely a page-turner, something I rarely experience, and the novel is not so much horror fiction as it is post-apocalyptic fiction. I recommend it as a good read and an interesting 'thought-experiment' as to what happens when civilization collapses.


The story did leave me with a few puzzles. Here was a brow-wrinkler for me: One character suffers two month's amnesia, yet turns out to have been ill for merely three days, whereas another character who falls ill for three days has trouble recalling only those three days. Odd.


Anyway, while everybody wants to write a novel, Totten has written a good one!

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