by Madeleine Roux
Published by Headline 2011.
Just about the only way you are going to make any impact these days with a post apocalyptic zombie novel is to have a unique selling point. This book certainly started off that way, Madeleine Roux originally unleashed this novel as a serialised blog written from the titular hero’s perspective. This confusing mix of reality versus fiction was a powerful thing and the blog quickly gained popularity, the issue is whether that online originality survives into its publication as a novel.
We first meet Allison through a blog post explaining how she is trapped in the break room of the bookshop where she works with a few colleagues. The world has suffered some kind of mass infection leading to “the outbreak” and the bulk of the population have been turned into “groaners” (that’s zombies to you and me). We follow the adventures of Allison and her friends through a series of chapters framed as blog posts, complete with comments illustrating the plight of others in the catastrophe. It’s not long before the group are running short of supplies and they decide to break out of the bookshop to a new location. We follow them through a series of adventures as they attempt to make it to Liberty Village, a sanctuary where Allison thinks her mother might be.
What we have then, is a typical zombie novel, but with a spin. The blog post idea works well initially, but you soon find yourself questioning it. The idea that when you are being chased by a mad pack of zombies, you would retain enough wits to keep your laptop and charger safe seems a bit far fetched, the idea that you would have access to power and mobile internet signals even more so. And the blog posts themselves are not blog posts, they are in fact well written chapters full of descriptive prose and dialogue, sure there are a few comments bolted on to the end of each chapter but the conceit of these being actual posts doesn’t last long.
When you strip away the facade of the blogging zombie tale you are left with a well written but rather unoriginal zombie adventure. Fast paced initially and with a tense climax the book is also let down by a rather drawn out and much slower middle section where the characters suddenly get involved in rather tortuous romantic interludes. So kudos to Madeleine Roux for trying something different and for the ability to write a perfectly fine zombie adventure, but it fails to stand out from the swarming hoards of similar titles in the way you might expect, so comes across as a bit of a missed opportunity.
Rating 3 out of 5