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Posted January 14, 2013
Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, Cornell Woolrich, Patricia Highsmith, Stephen King...and now Justin Robinson.
Seriously, if you like any of the above authors, then you've gotta read this book. Even though I usually don't really like zombies that much, I read the description and the reviews and I was intrigued enough to give it a shot. Next thing I know, I'd finished the whole thing. Robinson really does an amazing job of creating an immersive world that you'll get lost in. I already ordered another one of his books and I can't wait until it arrives!
Posted December 28, 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's fast-paced, full of zombies, with plenty of intrigue for those who like a mystery in addition to chilling scenes of humanity gone awry. Plus, Pulaski is probably one of the most entertaining supporting characters in a book ever.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2012
Glen Novak is a Mickey Spillane tough-guy living in Dashiell Hammett's noir California five years after the zombie apocalypse. To survive that long you've gotta get a killer instinct and a little bit nuts, maybe even a lot nuts, and that goes for everyone. Devon, the tiny enclave of hardened survivors he has to comb through for the clues to his own murder, is alive with Chandlerian detail and a richly rendered cast of characters; from those just trying to scrape through another day, to those that believe there's still a better future to be made, to the remorseless toughs and kingpins who lord power over them. Mr. Novak may be a bad man, but there are plenty worse and up to his (un)dying breath he's gonna do everything he can to make sure they reap what they've sewn.
The pacing and urgency of the narrative is pitch-perfect and relentless, the story doesn't so much fly by as pull the reader along towards the inevitable, violent end. As his fate overtakes him, we feel every agonizing and horrific detail of Novak's transformation. A process that is wrenchingly impairing and yet darkly liberating, even ironically invigorating in its awakening in our protagonist an empathy he had cynically thought died along with the world.
Robinson's prose evokes the punchy hard-boiled noir of the greats of the form, but with a voice very much his own: delightfully familiar and classic, yet distinctively different. It is put to great effect painting a picture of a world with all the vivid reality and palpable looming danger of a knifepoint against your spine. Devon is a setting that feels so real you could find your way around, not that you'd want to end up there if you could help it!
In the midst of the visceral violence and danger, Undead On Arrival touches on themes of control and helplessness; the paths one takes by choice or necessity, and how we justify where we end up, and the often unrealized tragic consequences therein. The compelling complexity of Glen Novak is gratifyingly explored through the haunting memories of a lost loving wife from the world that's gone, the femme fatale he's fallen in with just as he's fallen into the role of tyrant, the good doctor that represents the life that might have been possible had he not given up on the future, and an undead revenant bride waiting to embrace him. The complex relationships of the people of this small community and the reality of the precariously balanced brutal politics that bind them are heartfelt and real, often tragic. Monsters can turn out to be trusted allies, even true friends, and in those that seem truest of heart are the deepest roots of betrayal.
Posted July 28, 2012
Today is the day Glen Novak dies... and this zombie-noir novel treats us to the violent and oft-times depraved lengths he sinks to in a quest to avenge himself. For him, the world ended five years ago, when a mysterious plague ripped through human society, like the gore-stained hatchet he wields, and disemboweled everything he ever cared about in it. All Novak can do now is survive, until he unknowingly crosses the wrong person and springs a nefarious trap. Now he must find another reason to live for just one more day.
In many ways, it seems like the wrestling coach-turned-scavenger Novak is already dead. He's killed off that remaining bit of common humanity in himself in order to survive in an apocalyptic world over-run with the living dead; like he is already one of the dreadful "geeks", replacing an insatiable hunger for living flesh with a need for power and control. It is deliciously ironic that his downfall is the only thing in this dying world that can revive the spirit of humanity in him, especially since it comes a day too late.
Novak's self-imposed quest to find his killer drives the impetus of the plot, and through it we see humanity at its best and worst. The characters we meet on Glen's hunt are complete beings, and we are surprised to find ourselves sympathizing with those we initially hated, and loathing those we at first liked.
The detective story itself is just as engaging as the action and horror, with the author sprinkling in just enough clues for we the readers to figure it out. I HATE mystery novels that withhold vital clues until the final scenes. This one offers us a view through Novak's eyes, giving us subtle hints along the way that the anti-hero Novak is just a bit too focused (or dim) to see. Glen Novak is certainly no Sherlock, and I appreciate that we are given things through his un-educated eyes. Where Sherlock might take time to ponder what he has learned, or consult Watson, Novak simply continues to senselessly pound his opponents until he can make sense of their mutterings.
The first half of the novel is a wonderful slow-burn: an exposition of mood and character interaction, and an insight into Novak's tarnished soul. We get drawn into the cares and worries of the inhabitants of Devon, and Novak's effects on (and connections to) them. As expected, it seems like everyone has a reason to want him dead!
But when the Dinner Bell rings, we find ourselves in a whirlwind of frenetic activity, and are rewarded with spectacularly-written, extended-action sequences. I could barely believe it when it seemed like the beginning of the climax was reached and I was only 58% of the way through. And the story just kept getting more intense from there! I'm reminded of author Matthew Reilly's (the Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield novels) style of prose: fast-paced, with constant action and unrelenting stakes. And through it all, the foundation of noir and horror this novel was written on still makes itself unignorable.
Definitely a must-read if the description seems even slightly interesting to you.
Posted July 25, 2012
Something is rotten in the Central California town of Devon... and it's not just the smell of the zombies besieging its walls. Welcome to Undead on Arrival, a novel that ingeniously fuses the hard-boiled detective genre with the horrors of the zombie apocalypse. Get ready for a two-fisted thrill ride of murder and betrayal as Glen Novak has only a matter of hours to find out who punched his ticket and get his revenge, before he succumbs to the virus in his veins that will truly make him a dead man walking.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 25, 2012
The world has ended and has started to rot.
With words as stark and vivid as the hatchet on the cover we see the world in decay. This is not the last society of good that has clung together against the hungry maw of the undead, this is where every hardened murdering psychopath that you need in a zombie movie ends up after the rest of his happy-go-lucky group gets slaughtered by the undead.
It is gritty. It is dark. Its humor is really dark. And it is fantastic story. With a colorful crew of characters who are both impossible and absolutely recognizable.
Undead on Arrival delivers. From police riot shield. To the silent slice of shining silver. And of course the hatchet.
Posted July 25, 2012
Glen Novak has a decent life, considering the zombie apocalypse has been going on for a few years now. He is the leader of the biggest local team of scavengers, going outside the safety of the city to see what they can find for food and survivors, and inevitably to fight the zombies drawn to them. Out beyond the barricade, they are all tremendously careful about safety as just one bite is certain death. Back in the comforts of his home where his defenses are lowered, someone has set Novak up to be bitten.
The clock is ticking down now as the change begins. Novak has one day to find his killer and exact revenge, but he must keep his condition secret lest his comrades take him down first. But who has set him up? Is it one of the other two town leaders, seeking to consolidate their power? Is it one of the many people who could have a personal vendetta against him? Who would do this, and who could do it?
As Novak gets closer to solving the case, it becomes harder to hide the progression of the infection. Will he be discovered? Will he solve the case before his time runs out?
The fast pace and quick twists of the plot contrast beautifully with the portrait of life in a small town strained by ongoing disaster. The characters are well drawn and all the more human for the horrors they live with. Robinson's writing will sink its teeth into you and not let go.
Posted July 24, 2012
With zombies saturating the market lately in the form of movies and books, I was a little skeptical about how I'd feel when I finished this book. There was absolutely no reason for me to worry.
Although it's a novel about zombies, I really enjoyed the fresh take on how survivors would act post-zombie apocalypse. (I'm assuming it's a fresh take; I don't really love zombie stories and haven't read a ton of them) And since it follows just one man and only for one day, I didn't get overwhelmed with scenes about people constantly being scared for their lives, or turning on each other to survive. Robinson skipped that part and focused on a world in which there was a functioning society, as much as a society could function at that point. In the story, I followed a man who was cautious, rather than fearful. Aware of his surroundings, relying on only a few other men to have his back while he covered theirs.
Robinson takes care to write in details that make the world seem much more realistic. Endless supply of gasoline for cars? Nope. How do they function without electricity? He tells you how. What's traded for what, what's the worth of jewelry? I love all of the tiny touches he's put in his novel, how he fills in a world behind the main character.
I loved the tone of the novel, and the writer's voice is amazing. I recommend this to anyone who loves a good horror or noir story. I even recommend it to people who are tired of zombies, or never liked them in the first place.
Posted August 1, 2013
No text was provided for this review.