Original Release Date: February 3, 2011
Publisher: Independently by the author via Createspace
Zombies have not been around the literary world as long as vampires and various other vicious creatures of the night…and day. This lack of saturation over the years has allowed authors the opportunity to get creative and change things up a bit, to break the mold while still staying true to what many have come to love about the undead flesh-eaters. Even the subtlest of changes can make a huge difference in the dynamic of the story. For me, a fast zombie is MUCH more threatening in theory than a slow shamble, because I personally don’t have the physical ability to do what needs to be done….to RUN! On the flip side, you have a horde of slow movers coming your way, cornering you and you run out of ammo. What do you do then? Either way, the outcome of the situation is bleak.
Edward J. Russell, the author of the novel I am introducing you to today, “The Dead Infested: Second Bane,” takes the zombie and adds his own touch to the genre. The undead are still the ghouls that many have come to view as unholy visions of humanity. But Russell has made some slight changes that, I think, bring about a bit more depth into the “character” of the zombie.
Imagine, if you will, a world where the dead have risen and roam the lands in search of sustenance in the form of human flesh. A world where civilization has essentially come to an end except for a few staggered groups struggling to survive. Where not only do these survivors strive to avoid becoming the next “Happy Meal with legs,” but also have to defend their sanctuary from other humans hell-bent on taking what they have risked their lives to procure.
This is the world in which Ward (Warden) Wilson now lives. The people, who look to Wilson as their leader, have been given a chance at a return to a fairly normal life while living inside an aquaculture compound. However, this return to normalcy is threatened when a stranger, Reed, joins their group; there is an immediate personality clash between he and the Warden. Add to this distress the ever present threat of a nearby faction of survivors led by Dante, attempting to procure their next meal or shelter by taking what they want from those who already have it, rather than foraging for their own supplies. Oh and did you forget about the hordes of wandering zombies?
Now let’s take some time to “infest” the Score:
G: General Entertainment – Russell’s narrative in this book does not have what I would call a unique storyline; however, there are elements that are quite intriguing and brought about an interesting twist to the ending. The characters are expanded upon very well and written in such a way that you actually get surprised when certain people are not who they initially seemed to be. I mention the character development in particular, as I have noticed that some first-time authors can lack the flourish of a well thought out character. 8/10
O: Original Content – The compound, an aquaculture (also known as an aqua-farm), was an inspiring and great location to use to build a community of survivors; a natural self-contained community to begin with, all it really needed was some fortification. Just be careful as to how much is eaten and make sure to not kill the female animals with eggs, and an indefinite fresh food supply is readily available. As mentioned above, Russell’s novel can be very formulaic at times and that can get a bit old after a spell. However, the author added some elements to his tale, specifically regarding the undead, that were quite engrossing and were something that I had not as of yet read in a zombie novel. I hesitate to say much more as I do not want to ruin any aspect of this book. 7/10
RR: Realism – This is the area, I believe, where Russell shows his some of his strongest work. Being a former military man, he is familiar with military ranking structure, vehicles, lingo, and the weaponry used. However, he does not force the technical aspect of any of this down your throat; it’s not “gun porn,” as some would say. Russell is also highly effective in creating realistic action sequences. The characters react in ways that are consistent with their personalities. While the events and actions happening in the world of the “Dead Infested” are fantastical (duh, it’s a story about zombies), they are still believable. The actions chosen by the survivors are that which real people would likely choose in order to survive. Mistakes are made, lives are lost and saved, and the groups are forced to move on quickly no matter what the result of their actions. 8/10
E: Effects & Editing – I was able to get my hands on both a physical copy and a Kindle copy of “The Dead Infested: Second Bane”. The book itself is well put together with solid binding and an illustrated front cover with the title written in a font that gives the appearance of dripping blood. The back of the book has an image relevant to the story along with the book summary. While not overly lengthy, coming in at only 218 pages, Russell’s prose allows for a quick and satisfactory read with minimal spelling or grammatical errors. The Kindle edition had no formatting issues that I noticed and, again, limited spelling and grammar issues were apparent. 7/10
TOTAL SCORE: 7.5/10
Whether a die-hard zombie fan or just an occasional reader of the genre, “The Dead Infested: Second Bane” is well worth checking out. There is plenty of original content and exciting action sequences that make it easy to stay hooked into the story and not feel like you’re reading the same ol’ zombie novel. So, take charge of your survival, avoid becoming that tasty walking “Happy Meal” and pick up some tips from “The Dead Infested: Second Bane”.
–Reviewed by: Heather Faville