Sunday, 23 April 2017

Book Review: Z Risen: Outbreak by Timothy W Long

When the USS McClusky (FFG-41) was overwhelmed by the dead, Machinist Mate First Class Jackson Creed, and Marine Sergeant Joel “Cruze” Kelly, were forced to abandon the ship, and take their chances in San Diego.

Now they are stuck in a city that has been completely overrun with zombies and as the days go by they must range farther and farther away from ‘fortress’ in their search for supplies. Relying on military training, guts, and pure force of will, the two of them will face a nightmare world that is intent on killing them one bite at a time.

My Review: 
Machinist Mate FC Jackson Creed and Marine Sgt Joel Kelly were on the USS McClusky headed into port when a zombie outbreak causes chaos on the ship, forcing the men to abandon it and get to the shore. Once there zombies are all over the base and a chaotic escape onto the streets of San Diego takes place where they only have each other to rely on for survival.

This is one of those books that was a decent zombie read but it left me feeling that there was something missing to just take it to the next level as far as star ratings are concerned. There were a few niggles about this book that frustrated me a little and that meant I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to. I do love that cover, which really captures the mood of the story and the events that are taking place.

Lets start with the good points. The cover is great as I already mentioned. The author is a good storyteller and I had no issues with the way he writes the main body of the story. There was some decent zombie action through the book along with encounters with the bad side of humanity. Jackson is an engineer on the ship and is not a great shot with a gun, doing the minimum training that the job permits. He is also vastly out of shape compared to his friend which means he is out of breath on each mission they go on and is a bit of a liability at times. I thought it added a nice element to the story for a military guy to not be skilled and fit for a change. I have no idea if this is accurate from a military stand point but I found it interesting.

Firstly there is a ton of bad language and the 'guy jokes' which starts to become annoying as the book progresses. I don't find the constant swearing and bad taste jokes to be amusing banter-it was just downright annoying and set this book lower than other military reads that I have on my shelf. I prefer real conversations in my zombie book characters instead of the cliche foul mouthed US soldier that we see in these books too often. The obsession with grabbing beer instead of water really annoyed me when they are military men trying to survive in the city heat. Water and energy giving foods should be your priority, not dehydrating yourself with beer when zombies are chasing you across the city. When the guys meet Roz, of course Jackson flips into non stop comments about her attractiveness and wondering if he stands a chance with her. Is it not possible to work with her without rating her by her looks? I also found it strange that military people would refer to the USS McCluskey as a boat rather than a ship.

The first main action of the book follows the guys as they attempt to get to a house known to belong to a survivalist who might have supplies. They are sneaking into the area trying not to attract zombie attention. They know that there will be a lot of supplies in the house that could keep them going for a while. So when they find the door secured, do they look for tools to open it or another way in? No they use explosives, blow the door open and attract every zombie and looter in the city. It means they can only grab a few items before they have to run so they leave the food and grab the beer! This whole sequence was mad. Yes it was interesting from the zombie attack point of view but I thought the characters were being dumb in not looking at other quieter options and being sensible about what they take.

Poor decision making by military personnel occurs through the book. The two men have put a sign up on their hideout warning looters to stay out. Roz has done the same to her property. If there was ever a way to advertise that you have supplies worth stealing it is by doing that! One night they can hear somebody prowling around outside their property. Is it any surprise that when the boys go out later that they return to discover that their supplies have been stolen? This seemed really stupid to me. You want to hide yourself and your supplies and not make yourself an obvious target! Knowing that they were now attracting attention, their first act should have been moving their things to a new hideout. Every time they go out on one of their missions they do too much talking, make too much noise and attract too much attention.

I would have preferred to see the action unfold in a straightforward timeline to add a bit more tension to the book instead of using frequent flashbacks to fill in the gaps. We know there are only the two of them and they talk about the guy that died, then eventually go back to show what happened to him. As we already know that the zombies get him, there was no real tension in reading the scenes as we know what is going to happen to him. This is not a plot device that I greatly enjoy. I would rather see the action unfold in real time as it delivers a greater sense of anxiety and excitement to what is happening.

Overall I'd say it was a decent enough zombie book but with plot flaws that reduced my personal enjoyment. It is by no means a bad book and if you don't mind the sarky rude type of banter between characters you'd probably quite like this one.
Read March 2017
2.5 stars.


  1. Yeah screw the beer, if there's zombs I'm all about the water lol. And blowing a door off? Um, smart guys. :) Sounds like the banter is annoying too, but the out of shape guy is a nice touch. :) Great review!

    1. Thanks Greg! This book had potential but there wasn't enough for me to read on in the series.