There is a guy out there on the Internet named David Wellington. He’s calling himself a serial novelist. Essentially posting his works up a chapter at a time on the web, and when he’s done, getting them published into traditional book form. I would love to speak with him candidly about how successful it has been (obviously enough that he’s done six novels this way, with a seventh in progress).
In any event, I didn’t find him on the Internet. Instead, I stumbled on his books at a Borders bookstore while wasting time before seeing a movie at the theater in the same complex. I was drifting through the horror section, as I often do when I go to Borders, and found a curious set of books: Monster Island, Monster Nation, and Monster Planet. The subtitle to each was “A Zombie Novel” and from that alone I knew I had to at least read the book cover. Being near Christmas when I found them, I agonized for a couple of trips to the theater over whether I should add these to my ever growing Amazon wish list and hope to get them for the big day, or to just buy them. I bought them.
After reading the first book, I wanted to post a review, but I decided to wait. I wanted to review them all at once. So here you go, a trilogy review in one part.
Monster Island is set two years after a plague has hit. That plague: zombies. The first theory presented in the book is one that just smacks of common sense, that in a world descending into chaos places that are used to chaos will handle it better. In the case of a zombie plague, the places with the most armed citizens fairs better than urban areas full of unarmed people. In short, the Third World outlasts the First. Dekalb is a UN Weapons inspector who is tasked by a Somali warlord to find AIDS treatment drugs to help keep her well and alive. After a few failed raids of local installations, Dekalb suggests that the one place he is sure will have what they want is the UN Secretariat Building in New York City. So Dekalb and a group of female soldiers head to the United States. Remember that bit about the First World not doing so well? Yep, New York is a veritable Zombietown. Monster Island isn’t your traditional zombie story, as there is more going on with a talking zombie (a lich) named Gary and an old dead druid named Mael Mag Och who would just like to finish ending the world. The book is very well written, well paced, and I devoured it. A great read.
I wish I could say the same about Monster Nation. For the second book we actually step back to the beginning of the plague and a girl with no name. She’s a lich, one of those talking, thinking zombies with magic powers, but she doesn’t know it and doesn’t want to admit it. We are also introduced to Bannerman Clark the man initially in charge with figuring out what is going on. While this book isn’t “bad”, it doesn’t have the punch of the first book. Sometimes I literally felt like I was forcing myself to read the book. Overall, while still a decent read, I have to say that it suffers the same fate that many middle chapters in trilogies do, that is reads like a bridge from the first to the third more than it feels like a story all on its own. The only familiar character is Mael Mag Och, but he’s not as involved here as he will be in two years.
Monster Planet comes in ten years after Monster Island, twelve years after Monster Nation. Here we meet Sarah, Dekalb’s daughter, who is still running with the remains of the camp he left her in, bolstered by the survivors of the New York escapade. All the elements of the first two books come together here in a story much closer in energy and style to the first. Much more enjoyable than the second book, and a fine end for the trilogy… if it truly is the end.
Overall, I recommend the Monster Trilogy if you like apocalyptic tales and/or zombie stories. Its a bit rough in the middle, but is worth the ride in the end. David Wellington has definitely made my must read authors list, and I’ll be picking up more of his works to support him.