This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs
Not “just another zombie novel”
That was my worry, if I’m honest – like the Twi-hard copyists, there does seem to be a glut of zombie fiction out there at the moment. I’m not complaining and if it’s selling, good for them; whatever rubs your Buddha. And I’m not ruining the book for you by telling you this: there’s zombies in This Dark Earth – lots and lots of zombies.
What I liked about John’s second book was that everything changes when the zombies arrive and yet, everything stays the same. Humans don’t change over night into a bunch of plucky Brits battling the Hun during the Blitz (and frankly, there were bad apples during the war, too) and helping each other survive. Okay, there will be some, but there’ll be the opportunists and exploiters who ooze out of the woodwork at the slightest provocation, working out the angles and the best way to make themselves kings amongst the debris of the former world.
I digress. Jacob’s second book centres around a young boy named Gus and his mother, Lucy, who’s a doctor. Gus is some kind of prodigy, with a brain seemingly uniquely adapted to coming up with ways to stay alive in a world where most of the population has turned into zombies. I’m also not giving away anything by saying he comes up with a unique idea for how to live without getting your brainz eaten by a zombie: build your new colony on a bridge. Or on the end of one. Seems like a good solution and John makes it work for him.
I enjoyed this book, in much the same way I enjoyed his last, Southern Gods – if you haven’t read it, go buy it now – I took it on holiday and devoured it in a very short time. I like his characters and the way he develops them through the events happening in the book. It’s a subtle alchemy which I would love to emulate in my own work.
(And, if you haven’t worked it out yet, I’m hoping to get on his ARC list so I can read the books and tell you about them in advance!)
Go on, stuck for something to read? Like well-written alternative fiction? Go buy his book now.