Mmm… more zombies. Another Christmas gift this year was Len Barnhart’s Reign of the Dead. First, let me express my disappointment that this is an iUniverse published book. iUniverse is another POD publisher, though its not as bad as PublishAmerica since they are backed by Barnes & Noble it is still paying to be published and it still keeps your book out of most bookstores. That aside, this is actually a pretty good book. As usual for the genre, the dead come back to life and kill people. In this case, any dead person with an intact brain will get back up, but just the bitten. The author skips the gory details of the world being overrun and the first days of the walking dead by starting with a character who has been living in a secluded cabin for the past three weeks. After that it follows what is a fairly typical formula of survivors finding each other and banding together. He throws into the mix a government installation run by a mildly insane dictator type who actually becomes commander-in-chief after the fall of NORAD and all the major political players, at which point he decides that nuking all the cities is the answer. He doesn’t, because if he did it would be a really short story. Instead, there is a mini civil war, and dead soldiers becomes zombies, and only one scientist gets out. After a bunch of other stuff, the book actually ends happy. The zombies are gone and the remnants of humanity start putting the pieces back together.
I had one issue with the book. The first character, Jim, is described as a business man who has retreated to the wilderness to get some much needed rest. He is depicted as an avid hunter, but somewhere during the first few chapters he just sort of becomes this hardened military type that garners respect from the other characters. The thing missing is for him to have actually done something to earn that respect. Sure, in times of crisis, people often will latch on to any leader type, but Jim stumbles in with a group that already had a leader type and the trust he gets just doesn’t feel earned.
On a good note, I did very much enjoy the book’s use of a prison. To me, it has always been something that just logically made sense. A prison is like a ready made castle, and a perfect place to hunker down and try to survive a rising of zombies. Now, its true you could get trapped there, surrounded, but with the proper supplies for planting gardens and whatnot, you could easily survive there for years behind the fences and stone walls while trying to solve the being surrounded problem. So, I liked that they used a prison, especially dealing with the prisoners, guards and what happened after the zombies started prowling around.
Overall, this was a decent book. Definately worth the read. Happier, but not as well written as Brian Keene’s The Rising and City of the Dead (which I reviewed previously).