Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sweet Dreams: Dead City

     For those of you that don't know, I have a column in two magazines, both of which end in "Sweet Dreams" as a sign off. It may seem hokey to have such a strange signature, but it holds great meaning to me, as well as to one of my favorite authors. But I digress... the columns on my site labeled Sweet Dreams will always be book reviews or author interviews. Jokingly, these are the articles that it is safe to fall asleep to.

     So as one of the zombies from Dead City might say, lets dig in, shall we? The novel takes place in my hometown and reflects much of the culture as well as how the city would react to an invasion of the dead. Now this is truly an invasion as the Gulf of Mexico has been hammered four times by hurricanes, and refugees are flooding into our city like ants over a fresh corpse.
     The protagonist is a police officer that, when we first meet him, is being nagged by his wife over the phone that he needs to keep his current shift for her and the baby (his shift is about to switch back in a few weeks to the night shift.) Another officer rolls up next to him, so that they can talk and joke, but before any such frivolity can occur, they get a dispatch to go investigate a riot fight between nine people.
     Slow to respond, they arrive to find... nothing. They get out of their respective squad cars and begin walking around when a Hispanic woman covered in black fluid steps around the corner, and begins shuffling drunkenly towards the officers. Eddie (the protagonist) offers fair warning, but his voice attracts others from all around. 
     Suddenly they're surrounded.
     Quickly pulling out a cane of pepper spray, Eddie warns a nearby zombie and sprays it in the chest with the substance, to no effect. Next they try the beanbag shotguns, which make the zombies fall, but don't really slow them down otherwise.
     Eddie, along with his fellow officer, who has been bitten, stumble into his car and drive off, careening back and forth down the street before slamming into a tree.
     This is how we are introduced to Dead City.
     Right out of the gate, no explanation as to whats causing it, just zombies. And they begin to grow in number and swarm over a police blockade that Eddie wakes up behind. Without his gun, and for fear of his life, he hops over a brick wall into a gated community, waiting for the gunfire to die down.
     That's all I'm going to tell you about the story, besides the writing style and what I think is good and/or bad.
     The writing style is third person limited (he/she/they said), grounded fully with Eddie throughout the novel. The editor who combed through the novel did a good job editing out any errors as there are practically none. The flow of the novel is even and the pacing in chapters makes it stay a jumpy ride, where you feel you're just ahead of the next incoming wave of walking dead and have only seconds to spare.
     What I find to be poorly done is the segue work and the metaphors. He has to spell out his metaphors for the reader due to his strange choice of writing them into nooks and crannies, all while containing poor segue work, shifting from idea to idea with nary a thought. It emulates thought very well, but as a story it is something of a downside.
     A definite read should you get the chance, Dead City by Joe McKinney. Four skulls out of five.
     Until next time folks,
     Sweet Dreams

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