Mutation by Nerys Wheatley is the first book in the Twenty-Five Percent series which takes a completely different take on what we think of as a zombie apocalypse narrative. Zombies aren’t just brain eating death machines, there are other ways that the virus can influence their physiology and behavior. Those who survive infection by zombies are referred to as being a “White-Eye” based on their discolored eyes and are marked for life as second class citizens despite their improved abilities. I was sent a copy of the book to check out, and my findings are below.
Note: This is a shorter review than my usual because I am running behind with book reviews on account of the Splatterpunk Anthology I’m working on putting together. I’m still shooting for reading and reviewing a book per week, but some weeks I might be off a bit… I apologize in advance for the slightly shorter reviews, but I’ll try to be just as thorough as I have been in the past… It’ll just be condensed.
Sometimes, the best person to fight the monsters is someone who’s been one.
The last person Alex MacCallum wants to go through a major eater outbreak with is Micah Clarke. Alex is a Survivor. Bitten four years ago by an eater and treated, he survived the cure and is now stronger, faster and immune. But he lives with the stigma of being a “white-eye”, feared and despised. Micah has good reason to hate Survivors like Alex. He’s dedicated his life to convincing others they are dangerous and training himself to fight the threat he thinks they pose.
The world has lived with Meir’s disease for thirteen years, but when a new strain starts turning the population into eaters faster than ever before and their city is overrun, Alex and Micah grudgingly join forces to stay alive.
Can they survive the hordes of eaters, as well as each other, long enough to discover a way to stop this new virus?
What I liked most about this book was the premise. The series is named Twenty-Five Percent, presumably after the percentage of people who were infected with the Meir’s virus who returned to relatively normal life rather than spending the rest of their days craving human flesh. Those who survived infection find that their biology has been altered, most noticeably by way of their irises turning white. This is the first time I’ve seen anything that resembled “reformed” zombies in book form and it works incredibly well. The book also functions, deliberately or not, as a sort of social commentary thanks to the mistreatment of the zombie infection survivors. Another part of this story that is unique is the fact that it takes place 13 years after the initial infection. Unlike the dystopian wasteland scenarios which frequent zombie tales, this book features a society which has rebuilt. The narrator Alex, is a police detective. Detective zombie. (Okay, so it would be Detective reformed/cured zombie, but still.)
As with most zombie books released as of late, this one is the start to a series. Thankfully the characters are as interesting as the premise, so this will likely be one that I continue. Alex makes for a wonderful protagonist due to his sense of humor, wit, and intelligence.
If you love zombies but are sick of reading about wastelands and survival skills a la doomsday preppers, pick up Mutation. It’s only $0.99 on Kindle and is free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.