Friday, 25 March 2016

Book Review: Fortress Britain by Glynn James (Arisen #1)

A world fallen - under a plague of seven billion walking dead
A tiny island nation - the last refuge of the living
One team - of the world's most elite special operators
The dead, these heroes, humanity's last hope, all have...

When the Zombie Apocalypse came, one country had shut down its borders in response to a major terrorist attack. Now Fortress Britain is the last bastion of the living - with 50 million beleaguered survivors facing down a world of 7 billion animated corpses.

And when civilization fell, one international team of supremely elite special operators was being assembled for a nearly impossible mission, deployed out of the SAS barracks at Hereford. Supremely trained and armed, always the most skilled, resolved, and unstoppable amongst us, now the commandos of Alpha team are humanity's last best hope for survival. Searching through the detritus of fallen Europe, scavenging pharmaceutical labs for clues to a vaccine that might bring humanity back from the brink, now they are tasked with one last desperate operation.

My Review:
Britain is the only country who seems to have the zombie apocalypse under some kind of control, due to a terrorist scare shutting their airspace to aircraft just as the virus went global. The Channel Tunnel has been blocked off and the military have all but a few random zombies taken care of. But things are about to go very wrong...

Firstly, military based in the UK have to go on missions into Europe for supplies and information about a cure. The missions get more dangerous and new mutant versions of the zombies with more speed and intelligence are appearing, putting the troops in extreme danger. You have the ordinary Romero style shambling zombies. Then a couple of different types of fast moving zombies are detected. Seriously I never want to see a Foxtrot! These guys can run like an olympic sprinter, climb, jump and their sole purpose is to infect, not feed. Then a breach appears in the Channel Tunnel and a Foxtrot gets out and starts infecting people and soldiers around Folkstone, turning the local population into zombies. Now home defence becomes a priority starting with a tunnel clearout where there are rumours of survivors. We also meet Wesley, one of the few in the area to survive along with Captain Martin.

I liked this book. The writing was very tight and the author has a good way of drawing you into the story. The missions are very tense and exciting as you wait to see if the troops or the zombies are going to get the upper hand. I liked the different types of zombies with different threat levels. The action near the tunnel takes place in the dark, where you know bad things are lurking and people are being pounced on by the undead. It was quite a gripping read and it was not hard to get caught up in events as things go wrong.

I'm not a military expert so I have no idea how accurate the portrayal of the soldiers and weapons are but to the untrained eye it feels realistic and authentic. This is how I imagine that a military base in a crisis would be operating, complete with the mix of characters getting on each others nerves, but uniting to get on with the job. It is TEOTWAWKI as REM would have said, so things are going to be tense and fights are going to break out.

However, the gripe? The US military are in the UK which is the only safe place to launch operations from. So of course they decide to throw their weight around, barking out orders and causing resentment from the UK soldiers-and this British reader. This is our bloody country and foreign troops should do what they are told or they can go back to the Infected States of America. The religious bits also held no interest for me but it was clear that they were introducing the beliefs of certain characters for development purposes so I was ok with it. Having now read on in the series, the religious things are kept to the minimum required and the story is very fast paced so I was happy with that. Also to my delight, the teams forget their differences and both US and British team members become friends and the tension between any of them and fights over chain of command are gone.

This book is set in the UK and I'm pleased about that because there are so few good zombie novels based here for British fans to read. Too many of them are Shaun of the Dead type storylines which ends up with loser characters you hate doing dumb stuff. This is different-US army, US Navy, SAS, Special Forces, Bristish Armed Forces, Border Security and a cast of civilians give you different viewpoints all the time and the switching action keeps it exciting. This book is more of an scene setting introduction to the crisis so it's a bit slower than the action packed sequels but still not slow, as there is good action in it.

I originally gave this 3 stars but a reread this week had me wondering why I marked it so low! I'm loving the series now so have rewritten this review. If you liked ZA Recht's Morningstar zombie books you should like this. Recommended for fans of zombies!
star rating photo: 5 Star Rating 5stars.jpg

1 comment:

  1. I am not a fan of zombie novels,but this one does sound good. The fact Britain is the only place free of zombies sounds like an interesting set-up. With how there's only the channel, sea or air for them to get in and that channel breach must be pretty bad. It sounds well written and exciting and that's good when it at least feels realistic. Great review!