Voodoo Plague by Dirk Patton is an excellent book and although I hate to end the year on the start of a series, I’m thrilled to be able to round out 2014 on a positive note! The book was published just one year ago this month, so I’m grateful to be able to recommend it so highly so recently after its first birthday.
John Chase has just arrived in Atlanta on a business trip when America experiences the worst attacks in history. Nuclear bombs destroy cities and the widespread release of nerve gas sends the majority of the surviving population into a murderous rage. Rescuing a woman who survived the attacks he must lead her to safety as Atlanta burns, raging infected roam unchecked and society disintegrates into savagery.
Entertainment 5/5 & Writing Style 5/5
This novel is clever, fast paced, and incredibly engaging. The narration is in the first person perspective and the characters are incredibly likable. This, when combined with the ease at which one can relate to the characters is one of many elements of the story that I found particularly entertaining. You really feel what the characters do. As John’s anxiety mounts, you can feel a bundle of nerves accumulating in the pit of your own stomach. When his steadily increasing anxiousness finally blossoms into fully realized fear, you understand completely. Having characters which are easy to relate to and likable can increase a reader’s enjoyment of writing tenfold. This book goes above and beyond any of my expectations for what a reader should hope to get from a zombie book.
Writing Flow 5/5 & Originality 5/5
Elements of the story flow seamlessly together as the reader accompanies John through the scary first days of the zombie apocalypse. Since the flow of the book is based around the natural passage of time rather than making a variety of transitions, this makes the book and plot incredibly easy to follow. Readers are given only what the narrator, John, knows – so there’s no unsettling sensation that the characters should be picking up on obvious clues or that the characters aren’t reporting everything. Since John is providing his accounts of events in real time every aspect of the flow seems as logical as it is sincere.
As far as originality goes, I like some things about this premise and dislike other things, but decided to give it a high score because when combined the good far outweighed the overplayed. This book presents the zombie apocalypse as something which happens as part of an attack on the United States by another country/outside parties, and in the beginning the zombie outbreak is presented not as a virus, but as a nerve agent which first paralyses the affected before serving up some hyper-aggression. Presenting the apocalypse as a nerve agent that merely paralyzes rather than kills and re-animates is fairly new, and I did like the fact that it was a chemical agent rather than being referred to exclusively as a virus. Of course, having the zombie apocalypse occur as part of an attack is something that has been done, though this book also scored some bonus points because it offered up John in a unique situation. He was away from his hometown on a business trip which, as you might expect, meant that he was suddenly in an unfamiliar place with little more than what he would take a short business venture with. No bomb shelters, military rations, or home arsenals can be found here!
Scene Description 5/5
The descriptions in this book are incredibly detailed and varied. The brilliant use of figurative language brings the scenes to life as vividly as the narration and dialogue breathes life into the characters and figures of the novel. Beyond that, there is so much of this book that is incredibly quotable! I am fond of quote collecting, so I greatly enjoyed passages such as:
“As usual for Atlanta, we taxied so long that it felt as if the pilot was trying to drive the plane back to Arizona…”
Lines such as those which are as affecting as they are evocative made Voodoo Plague Book One an absolute joy to read from a description perspective.
Overall I am proud to give Voodoo Plague a well deserved 5 out of 5 rating. It took a lot of the things that I love about zombie fiction and found ways to make them better. I love Patton’s writing style and look forward to reading the rest of the books in this series!
See you next year, ZADF!