Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #17: Monster Island by David Wellington
Finding a zombie book at the library book sale on half-price day is excellent, even if the zombie book doesn’t end up being very good. This one was pretty good. The zombie apocalypse has already happened when the book starts, and it dives right into the action. It never really explains “the Epidemic,” but lets the reader know that the more populated an area, the faster the devastation hit. Most of the survivors are from third-world countries, where humans were scattered enough to slow down the spread of the zombification.
One of the main characters is Dekalb, a former UN employee who makes a deal with a Somalian warlord named Mama Halima: he will travel by boat to New York City to raid the UN building for AIDS medications if Mama Halima will keep his seven-year-old daughter safe, and take him in when/if he returns. Dekalb is from New York City, and is understandably horrified by the change he sees when he gets there. Even the pigeons are flesh-craving monsters. The hospitals have been raided, the cupboards are all bare, and the dead are everywhere. He travels carefully through the dead city with a small troop of teenage girl soldiers who are willing to die to give their leader, Mama Halima, the chance to live and rule longer.
The other main character was completely original and creative. Gary was a med student who decided to take matters into his own hands when he saw death was inevitable. He hypothesized that lack of oxygen to the brain between death and reanimation was what made zombies slow and stupid, so he hooked himself up to a bunch of life support machines before he died, and presto! A zombie who can think and talk! Totally cool. And it’s interesting to watch him struggle to remain himself and human while the zombie within fights to take control.
Gary and Dekalb are both fighting to survive, both trying to find the new ‘normal.’ Dekalb and his group of girl soldiers stumble on a small band of survivors, and Gary also finds some unexpected allies. Things get a little weird from there.
I really like the unexpectedness of this book. The writing isn’t tremendous, but there were enough new and interesting things to keep me happy. I’ve seen a looooot of zombie movies, and it was great to encounter a story where human doesn’t automatically equal good and zombies aren’t automatically evil. Monsters, yes, but as Gary says, “I have a right to exist!”