I would normally bypass zombie novellas because ewwwww, zombies, but Dead Islands (Necrose Series) by Tim Moon is a needed change from my now-quickly-becoming-usual aquatic horror. It’s a quick, decently intense read. No, I’m not going to go to bed dreaming of regular humans vomiting until they die and then reawakening as mindless flesh eaters. Well, I might, but not because of Dead Islands. Still, I thought it was much more gripping than I imagined it would be. The biggest downfall about the book is some blatantly poor grammar that I, not even a trained or hired editor, could see quite clearly. Reading these supernatural creature horror novels is supposed to be my free time when I don’t think about grammar and other technical business, so I was highly disappointed in that aspect. I’ll explain this more clearly later on.
Dead Islands is a country-traveling horror novella, which is probably one reason it’s creepy. It’s bad enough that in this novella the entire country of China is infected with a zombie virus, but it’s even worse that the virus quickly spreads across the world. Readers only see the virus in its infancy in China as told through the eyes of a tourist (who doesn’t feature in the novella past the prologue) and then how it travels from a Chinese airplane into Kona, Haiwaii through the eyes of protagonist Ben Chase. Ben Chase is returning from an English teacher position in China and of course he gets caught up in situations where the virus spreads from person to person while magically keeping his health and humanity. Throughout the novel you’re going to wonder if the only reason Ben survives is that the author requires him for the rest of the series because by all means he should’ve shown signs of possibly contracting the virus. Ben is one of those “special snowflake” characters. If you can overlook the unbelievability of Ben’s survival, it’s worth it to read to the end. Yes, Ben and his group of friends and fellow survivors do get sent to a military quarantine center and live to potentially return for the second novella in the series. Meanwhile, this novella ends with a cliffhanger of sorts. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say that it seems the military is being negatively affected by the zombie virus in ways they never intended to be.
The positive points of Dead Islands are as follows:
- Ben Chase is an English teacher. I know there’s very little in this novella about that, but I think it’s so cool! Yay English teachers! Plus, if you think about it, how many other zombie novels or novellas have a normal everyday man character battling zombies? Just because everyone can see that Ben Chase and his friends are going to survive to the end, it’s still interesting to follow how they do it.
- Have you seen the horror movie Quarantine Two: Terminal? It’s not the world’s best horror movie and probably not even in the top 100 of best zombie movies, but I thought it was quite disturbing. The effective point of the above-mentioned movie is that part of the horror took place while the characters were in the air and part of it was when they were locked in a terminal. Well, Dead Islands felt very similar to Quarantine Two: Terminal. For example, let’s briefly look at the scene where Ben and his friend Ty are riding on an airplane to get to Kona, Hawaii. At some point during the trip, Ty leans over to Ben and tells him that the man in front of them died from vomiting all over the front of his seat. Ben looks at the mess and there’s globs of green gunk mixed with red liquid. The man died from extremely bloody vomiting. Less than thirty minutes later, the dead man (zombie, but of course nobody is smart enough to call him that) begins attacking a woman. Here’s the run-down of my thoughts on this. I am terrified of vomit, which means watching it, reading about it, hearing it, hearing people make “vomit sounds”…so basically, just vomit in all its disgusting forms. Reading about this turned my stomach all in knots and I’m not sure I’ve quite recovered yet. As far as I’m concerned, this is a legitimate horror novel. Thank you Tim Moon!
- I swear Ben, Ty, and their female friends are the dumbest characters when it comes to zombies! Author Tim Moon politely calls them out on their stupidity by making them self-aware of their lack-of-zombie knowledge. In one scene midway through the book, long after the two friends have seen people and corpses chewed up by the zombies, Ben and Ty are talking about what the flesh eating people might be and Ben suggests that maybe they’re zombies. Ty laughs it off as ridiculous. Tim Moon subtly tells his readers that he knows these characters are the dumbest and he’s playing that up.
There was one major thing I didn’t like about Dead Islands and unfortunately I do have to give it its own paragraph. The grammar in some spots, spread throughout the novel, is horrific. Let me give you an example. On page 5, we have “Darius emerged from the shadows of the alley and into the sun, it took him a minute to process what lay before him.” This sentence would be perfectly acceptable has there been a period splitting up the idea where Darius emerged into the sun and where it took him a minute to process what lay before him. This comma is inappropriately placed. Now, I understand the mistakes can slip through both the author and the publisher, but it’s no longer a mistake when it shows up through the entire book. I call attention to it because readers should not be clearly seeing errors such as this in their fun reading material. If I can pinpoint errors when it’s not even my job to do so, why can’t the author and editor do the same? It’s these sort of grammatical errors that make traditionally-published, “dead tree” books cautious of getting into the self-pubbed market and the least authors and their editors can do is take away simple problems complaints through closely, thoroughly editing the work.