William Todd Rose writes dark, speculative fiction from his home in West Virginia. His short stories have been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines, and his novels include Cry Havoc, The Dead & Dying, and The Seven Habits of Highly Infective People. For more information on the author, including links to bonus content, please visit him online.
Apocalyptic Organ Grinder: A Dystopian Novellaby William Todd Rose
A fatal virus—a biowarfare experiment unleashed on an unsuspecting world—has reduced the once-mighty United States to a smattering of tribes dueling for survival in the/b>/b>
William Todd Rose reinvents the zombie story with a thrilling novella of a post-apocalyptic America where saviors are heroes . . . and heroes are killers.
A fatal virus—a biowarfare experiment unleashed on an unsuspecting world—has reduced the once-mighty United States to a smattering of tribes dueling for survival in the lawless wilderness. The disease-free folk known as Settlers barricade themselves in small villages, determined to keep out the highly contagious Spewers—infected humans who cannot die from the virus but spread the seeds of death from the festering blisters that cover their bodies.
Tanner Kline is a trained Sweeper, sworn to exterminate Spewers roaming the no-man’s-land surrounding his frightened community. As all Settlers do, Tanner dismisses them as little more than savages—until he meets his match in Spewer protector Lila. But when hunter and hunted clash, their bloody tango ignites a firestorm of fear and hatred. Now, no one is safe from the juggernaut of terror that rages unchecked, and the fate of humanity hangs on questions with no answers: Who’s right, who’s wrong . . . and who’s going to care if everyone’s dead?
Praise for Apocalyptic Organ Grinder
“With strong echoes of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, William Todd Rose’s Apocalyptic Organ Grinder delivers on all fronts. The action is brutal and the blurring of man and monster intelligently and inventively handled. Rose has written a smart thriller with a ton of heart.”—Joe McKinney, Bram Stoker Award–winning author of The Savage Dead and Inheritance
“The book just took me away. . . . The prose is beautiful.”—39 Purple Sunrises
“Dark, and definitely not fluffy . . . a no-holds-barred look at what may happen in the future.”—Mrs. Condit & Friends Read Books
- Random House Publishing Group
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This is SUCH a cool book for those like me who love post-apocalyptic fiction. What’s left of society has devolved into the most primitive existence and two clans are pitted against each other. The Settlers are as healthy as possible in a world of limited hygiene and medical skills while the Spewers are diseased and infectious, not welcome among the Settlers or anywhere nearby. The Spewers are the new version of Typhoid Marys and literally could destroy the little that’s left of humanity. Still, the two groups have managed to co-exist by keeping their distance but that will all change when Tanner meets Lila and sees for himself that the Spewers are not just carriers of pestilence and, yet, can’t bring himself to believe they deserve any compassion. The increasing tension and anger that affect both sides is palpable and I found myself drawn to Lila as much as to Tanner but deciding which faction is more deserving of survival is a question still roiling in my mind. Mr. Rose has presented a conundrum that may not have any easy solution, leaving his readers much to think about, indeed.
Spewers are the New Walkers, (Three and a half stars) The opening instantly hooked me with the author’s use of voice, a disturbing meld of archaic and modern prose. Once the story starts in earnest, it falls into a classic dystopian narrative style, losing some of its bite and flair to settle into a straightforward account. Periodic interludes resume a more subdued version of the prologue to further add background, the world beneath the story growing with the plot. The originality is a welcome change to the typical apoc scenarios of late, and Mr. Rose does a fantastic job of introducing a new and more terrifying horror than zombies. There is no shortage of pus and gore, albeit more of a disease vector flavor, and that works just fine. After all, what is more disturbing? Rotting flesh falling apart… or living, squirting tissue? The plot does become somewhat predictable and there is not really enough dialogue to establish solid character growth, though the two main characters’ inner POVs does help some. On that same note and as I mentioned earlier, the incredible opening prose gives over to dystopian narrative, and while this is strictly personal preference, I felt the story lost feeling with the change of voice. Passive phrasing and a lean toward verbosity helps with the sense of hopelessness as part of the setting, but it also slows the momentum a bit. Overall, APOCALYPTIC ORGAN GRINDER is a solid look into a realistic if not oozing future. More importantly, it is a very original and uncomfortable strain of post-apocalyptic fiction I hope to see more of from Mr. Rose, earning it three and a half stars.
This book has the potential to be a good book. It seems as though the author lost steam half way through the book. Also, it reminds me more of a cowboy verses indian book. I am disappointed in what I have read. It truely did have the grounds to be a great book, I don't know if having a sequal to this book would even make up for the first.
This book needs a sequel. However, I enjoyed reading it immensely.
4.5/5.0 Compelling Book source ~ Many thanks to NetGalley and Hydra for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review. Centuries ago a virus caused a great divide in the people of the United States. The virus caused many people to die, but those that didn’t became carriers capable of infecting others. The sick and carriers were separated from those uninfected and made to live in prison camp conditions. Eventually those infected escaped and built villages far from the others. The infected came to be known as the People amongst themselves, but the others called them Spewers. Spewers called the others Clear Skins, but the others called themselves Settlers. Tanner Kline is a Settler and a trained Sweeper. He goes outside the settlements and sweeps for Spewers. If he finds any he shoots them. Lila is a protector for the People. She has no gun and uses a spear, her wits and her physical prowess to protect herself and her People from the Sweepers. The meeting between Tanner and Lila creates a spark that ignites a deadly war between the two factions and obliterating the uneasy balance maintained for so many years. This is a compelling story told from two polar opposite points of view. You have Tanner who is trained to protect the Settlers from the deadly Spewers and you have Lila who is trained to protect the People from the deadly Settlers. Both think they are noble and doing the right thing and yet they are on opposite sides. Who’s to say which group is right? If they had just left each other alone then the ending that comes to pass could have been avoided. Though I have to say I was quite impressed with that final scene. Very clever! The writing flows smoothly and the tension ratchets up with each page until the grand finale. This is a story that will stick with you when you are finished.
The biggest thing I liked about this fast-paced story was that it was told both in Tanner's and Lila's perspectives - and there were arguments to be made for who was right and who was wrong in their motivations and beliefs. Their world was extreme variations of shades of gray and the novella itself was dark and very disturbing at times. What I didn't like so much was the "fairy tales" in between some of the chapters that told of the coming of a hero and how the virus began. Parts of it were just laughable and didn't seem to fit in with the dark setting of the novel. However, the action sequences were very vivid made me feel as it I were right there watching in person. The author also did an excellent job in the character development of Tanner and Lila, showing the good, bad, and ugly of both. All through the story, I wondered where the organ grinder came in and when it showed up, I thought it somewhat reminiscent of the imagery in some of Stephen King's novels. Although I suspected what the ending might be, it didn't happen like I thought, so there was a little bit of a surprise there. I would definitely recommend this for a quick, thought-provoking read. This was a novella I received from Net Galley.