Let’s imagine you are a fan of the zombie apocaypse horror/science fiction subgenres but you are cautious about reading unknown zombie apocalypse authors. Your fears are completely understandable; I’m not even a zombie apocalypse fan and that makes me very discerning about what I enjoy. We both have that in common, even if our reasons are different. Trust me when I say that Outbreak: The Hunger is a fun read and in spite of its writing style flaws I do recommend it.
Outbreak: The Hunger begins scarily similar to the zombie apocalypse horror movie 28 Days Later (note the reference to the movie in the text) in which three animal rights activists are in a laboratory to free the animals. They do exactly that, but of course it blows up in their faces when one of the friends is killed by an animal and another friend is badly injured. The third friend is Jason, a very important secondary character who survives the night and stupidly spreads the zombie virus. You’ll learn more about him later in the novel, so keep his name in mind.
The bulk of the novel is about John, a chef and father to daughter Fiona (Fi). They are visiting the local zoo for daddy-daughter day thinking it’ll be fun, unaware that some of the zombie animals are there and ready to attack/spread the virus. Does either one survive to the end? Let’s just say that you’ll have to read through the epilogue and then to the first chapter of book two, Outbreak: The Mutation to find out.
My biggest hang-up about Outbreak: The Hunger is the writing style. This is not a deal breaker for me, but it’s fair to mention it in case it bothers any of you. The book is partially in third person, like when the animal rights activists break into the laboratory, any backstory about people who handle the zombie animals (Ex: Animal shelter workers Julie and Jim), and any scene involving the military. The remaining chapters are in first person where John is talking about being attacked by the zombie animals at the zoo. While the mixed points-of-view are necessary for telling the full story, it’s jarring to switch from third person to first person and back again.
Although the writing style can be problematic, Outbreak: The Hunger is a fun read. At the risk of spoiling a key part of the novel, the characters are often as confused as the readers. There’s not a clear “This is what the zombie virus is and this is how it spreads from animals to humans” explanation. Different characters contribute new information up until the end of the novel. This means that you go through a similar journey as the characters (except without zombie animals). Just keep in mind this helpful hint: Don’t care too much for anyone because the body count is pretty high. If you hate everyone or can handle characters you like getting picked off by zombie animals, you have nothing to worry about.
Author Scott Shoyer has been getting positive reviews by other zombie apocalypse authors such as Joe McKinney. I wouldn’t normally mention the reviews because they’re ego-stroking by friends, but here it’s relevant. Outbreak: The Hunger deserves more publicity than it currently has. I can’t promise that everyone will love it, but I can tell you that it impressed a reader who isn’t normally a fan of zombie apocalypse novels. Tell me what you thought of it.