A virus has been unleashed unto the citizens and tourists of Las Vegas making one and all insatiable. Will their unholy hunger for flesh be quenched or will society succumb to The Rising Dead?
The second novel from author Devan Sagliani promises all of the blood, guts and gore of its predecessor Rise of the Horde. Although they are not sequels or in any way linked to one another aside from being cut from the zombie cloth, each is as equally entertaining as the next. It’s encouraging to witness the author flourish, becoming more comfortable with his own, unique style. The characters are well developed and a great deal of communication takes place with subtle nuance. It isn’t necessary to constantly state he said, she said and Sagliani tweaks all of the body language, mannerisms and behavioural techniques that reign true in everyday interaction.
This time around, an unlikely band of college coeds unite with a former war veteran to thwart the seemingly unstoppable forces of the reanimated cadavers. They seemingly have the odds stacked against them as the virus has allegedly been created in a laboratory setting with the intent to utilize in bio-chemical warfare. Citizens of Sin City, tourists and even fellow dorm mates are among the walking dead. Supported and funded in top secret fashion by the US military, the contagion seems formidable; creating a virtual blood hungry machine for whomever is the recipient of the experiment. It’s an interesting slant, suspending the believability factor in a farfetched theme. In the past few generations we’ve often challenged our government, the powers that be and what goes on behind the scenes. The cause of this outbreak accentuates a more realistic façade, hitting much closer to home.
One may find the overall plot is configured a touch on the over indulgent side with respect to exposition. For a relatively short piece we’re often distracted from the current action and taken into the history of Gunner, the former war veteran or Max the adult web-cam star or even Parker, the would be pro baseball player. I can appreciate each of their respective pasts are outlined to showcase their character traits, getting deeper beyond the surface layers for solid character development. It’s a difficult balance and once again no easy feat to create characters we can all invest in, in a relatively short duration. I would have preferred to have remained more in the midst of action and letting the characters mannerisms, behaviour and actions speak louder than words.
The assortment of contrasting characters is a terrific blend. From the introverted nerd Travis, to Parker, the jock to Max the come hither, sultry adult web cam star to Gemma, the sexy yet conservative college co-ed; makes for engaging reading. We find a little of ourselves in each of the characters and almost on a subconscious level find ourselves rooting them on. The surface conflict is very real in terms of the outbreak yet we want to see all of the secondary, inner conflicts overcome such as the sexual tension between Parker and Max, the shy, reclusiveness of Travis and his attraction to Gemma. The dialogue personifies real interpersonal interaction in often humorous and uncensored fashion.
The pop cultural references are always welcome to lure the reader into the state of relating. I would be cautious however of stating limitations upon one self. Chances are years from now generations will have no idea what the names of certain reality television shows, rock bands or other references will mean. I think the occasional reference is fine, good and even encouraged but too many instances simply cements yourself in an era that’s entirely unnecessary.
Some very minor grammatical and typo errors were found here and there. Let’s be honest, virtually no published novel is completely exempt from mistakes. Often we skim over imperfections as our minds subliminally make the corrections for us. In Sagliani’s case the infractions again were very minor yet the improper use of the word ‘literally’ and mixing up homonyms their and they’re may jump out at some readers. I’d be a shame for such minor strife to tarnish the overall presentation of an otherwise tremendous endeavor.
The graphic gore in some cases is so shocking and startling in parts the action is reminiscent of the runaway television series hit, The Walking Dead. I won’t divulge any plot spoilers here but suffice to state the gruesome activity would make connoisseurs like Clive Barker proud.
Overall The Rising Dead is highly imaginative, most entertaining, exciting read. I’d recommend it to any fans of the zombie genre or avid readers interesting in trying a new author they’d never discovered. I would most definitely invite further endeavors from this talented, young author.
Book Review: The Rising Dead – Author Devan Sagliani