23 July, 2012

Review - This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs

I picked this book up not because I'm a fan of a good zombie book (even though I am), but solely on the strength of the reviews of his debut novel Southern Gods.

I haven't read it, but I will now.

This Dark Earth [US] [UK] takes us from the beginning of the zombie apocalypse through the early development of a new civilization. Not treading a whole lot of new ground here are we?

And I think that's what's blowing me a way with this book is that it's nothing new, but at the same time it felt fresh and vibrant and I COULD NOT put it down. I guess that shows what kind of writing chops this author has.

We start out following Doc Lucy Ingersol's point of view as the first of the outbreak begins to show up in the hospital in which she works. The waiting room breaks out in what I can only compare to Draculas. All hell breaks loose.

She gets away, barely, and gets picked up by a trucker who goes by the name of Knock Out...just as the world is being blown to smithereens, or just well-placed nukes in every major city.

While this isn't a whole lot different from the normal zombie fair, I can say he does a few things differently, at least in my limited experience. The first, is the entire set up of the novel. It's only made up of 7 chapters, each, for the most part, is a different character and in first person. They're all interconnected somehow and thus, you're able to get really close to each of the main characters.

The characters are for the most part relatively serious, but of course there's quite a bit of tongue-in-cheek. I usually get annoyed by this sort of thing, especially when it's done constantly, but it fit so well and the humor was so spot on, it worked perfectly. Here's a favorite quote, from the engineer, that occurs later in the book although I've taken out any spoilers for the most part:
I've brained 170 zeds. Klein says he's at 180, but there's not a lot of time for talking now. I'd be hard-pressed to say who's Legolas and who's Gimli. I'm taller and gay, so I'll take the elf.
The second thing is that you can't trust what will happen with these characters. Obviously, this is a zombie novel and of course no one's really safe...but then, The Walking Dead still has most of the main characters, even Carl...wait...where's Carl!?!?!

Speaking of The Walking Dead, if you're a fan of the show, I think you'll really connect with this book. Some of the same themes show up here, such as the need to avoid cities with their huge populations.

Okay, I'll stop talking about The Walking Dead, as much as I love that show. This Dark Earth would definitely not be viewable on TV. The back cover of the book has a quote from S.G. Browne that says this book is The Road meets World War Z. While I haven't read WWZ, I have read The Road and I can kind of see where he's coming from. The people who have survived at 3 years out are some of the nastiest around. There are good people granted, but where would the fun be if only those existed.

While this book is much more on the pulp end of things, I can definitely see that this comparison to The Road makes sense. There are some truly poignant events that occur that had my emotions running high. I can also say that I don't think I've read anything more brutal than what happens to one of the characters and the whole time it felt like I was going through it. On that note, this book definitely isn't for the faint of heart. Lots of blood and guts fill the pages, not to mention some other uncomely acts.

All in all, if you're going to read a zombie book, you should read This Dark Earth. Once you start, you won't be able to put it down anyway, so start now.

4 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


RedEyedGhost said...

I loved Southern Gods when I read it earlier this year, and it was fantastic.

I had thought I would skip this one because it does look like a retread in a genre that I'm not that interested in (zombie apocalypse). Your review has changed my mind. Thanks.

Bryce L. said...

Yes! I feel like I won something when that happens. :D I need to read Southern Gods, Jacobs really impressed me.

mobb said...

another interesting book

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