Thursday, 25 February 2016

Book Review: Dead Air by Jon Schafer

When a man suffering from a rare disease receives a debilitating head injury, the treatment given him mutates his affliction into a highly contagious virus. As the disease spreads, it first kills its victims and then reanimates them into beings that are compelled to eat ravenously and crave human flesh.

In Clearwater, Florida, Steve is following the stories of people attacking each other, but is unaware of the situation. When Heather, a Sheriff’s Deputy who is interested in Steve as more than a friend, tells him the real story of cities being overrun by the dead, Steve makes plans to barricade himself in the fifteen story bank building where the radio station manages has its suite of offices.

After locking himself in with Heather and eight others, the group continues to broadcast live as the dead surround their redoubt and search for a way in. Coming across a ten year-old girl that is immune to the disease, the group tries to find a way to transport her across a land filled with the flesh-eating dead to a government facility where she can be studied and a cure found.

My Review:
I liked the start of this book. A car accident victim with a rare condition that leaves him hungry all the time, is given up as about to die by doctors in the hospital. They decide to do some extra tests for research purposes on his brain but what they do triggers a reaction in his condition and turns him into a zombie. How realistic this might be is open to debate but I put that aside and enjoyed seeing something a bit different as the reason for Patient Zero. I also enjoyed the way the scenes in the hospital were written and I was amused by the interaction between the obnoxious doctor and his angry and very un-PC nurse!

The problem starts with the characters. The doctor was obnoxious but he got his so that was ok by me. The rest of the cast include Meat the rude alcoholic radio DJ who does nothing but party and makes me want to hit him. His long suffering boss Steve is a bit on the bland side for a hero. He has a girlfriend he doesn't really love, a lack of patience with those around him ie the boy at the store who was doing him a favour and we just get so much pointless information about his life. His girlfriend is a bit of a cardboard cutout with no personality and a desire to spend all his money.

We also have the characters who are just introduced so we can see them die, so we didn't need all the description of who they were and why they were there. There was Anton the wifebeater whose long suffering wife seeks an amusing way out of her situation, the drunken rednecks who go out to shoot the rabid people and use up all their ammo before the dead show up, and the knife wielding ticket tout at the stadium. A lot of time is spent on these characters instead of showing us our main MCs to follow. We barely see Heather in the beginning of the book and she was the most interesting character.

The book also suffers from being pretty slow in getting to the main point of the plot, which is the survivors joining together to barricade themselves at the radio station. Instead we follow Steve going bowling, Steve going for supplies, Steve meeting his girlfriend, plus all the filler incidents. I just wanted the story to move along a bit with less description.

This was a decent enough book. Minor niggles about plot and character can be easily ignored if you are engaged with the book, and I was, until we got the plot twist. The US government know what the virus is now but instead of looking for a cure or prevention, they decide to release it round the world to ensure nobody can invade them. WTF??? Everyone agrees to it without an objection or comment of surprise or horror about killing billions of people? I'm afraid that was a deal breaker for me and I didn't continue with it. It is a pity because the book had real potential. A rating of 2.5 is fairer but I don't have that available on this blog.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

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