I had never read anything by Mr. Keene before. I know he’s a titan of the horror genre, and I knew I should remedy that situation. So, I approached his newest release from Deadite Press (an imprint Eraserhead Press) with excitement, under the promise of being excellent.
And indeed it was, but with a small caveat: It was excellent within the boundaries of its genre.
I’ll expand on that.
But first, the basics: This book is about a group of tenants in an apartment complex fighting for their lives as hordes of naked, zombie-like psychopaths barrell down on them, committing acts of extreme atrocity.
So, basic survival horror, right?
Well, no. And yes. Let’s start with the ‘no’:
This book is beautifully written. You can clearly see this is the work of someone who is a master of what they do. The scenes are wonderfully constructed, the characters are real and believable, and there are bigger themes than just the horror those characters are enduring. Stephanie, for example, is a transexual character, and the theme of the way one person sees themselves x the way others do is clearly present, and it’s inserted in the ending in a way that ties it all together. My point is, the characters are fully fleshed out, which is always a pleasant feature in any work of fiction.
For the gore fanatics, don’t worry: You’ll get plenty of gore here, with scenes of dismemberment, beheadings, and other unnatural ways to end a human being’s life.
Now, for the ‘yes’:
This is basically a zombie book. And that’s not inherently a bad thing. On the contrary, I love those. I’m just throwing this here as a sort of caveat.
And here’s another one: The author himself mentions, in his foreword, that the narrative style of this book is a departure from his usual. Which is an excellent thing in the sense that shows Keene is an artist who bends narrative at his will, not being constrained by things like a defined style, instead doing what is best for the narrative itself.
I had only two minor problems with this book: The dialogue, and the ending.
“But Pedro, those are major points, not minor”
Well, yes, thank you for pointing that out to me, other Pedro! But although those are indeed big points, I don’t think they were bad. They were just not exactly in my personal taste.
The dialogue is perfectly cinematographic, and I could see this book being easily adapted into a movie. But it didn’t worked for me on a book level.
And the ending is kind of predictable; maybe a departure from the otherwise fully developed scenes this book contains up until that point. Maybe there’s a sequel in the works? I’d love to read that.