Autumn by David Moody
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
David Moody is a self-publishing phenomenon. He wrote and published his own bestselling series of zombie fiction in 2001, at a time when the Kindle was just an idea. It all started with this, his first book, Autumn. He gave away copies on his website, and sold the sequels through the growing world of print-on-demand. I admire him as a marketer and a publisher, but not so much as a writer.
I admit, I haven't read the rest of the Autumn series, but I don't really feel a need to. The book doesn't really stand on its own since almost nothing happens, and the book isn't that interesting to begin with.
A mysterious force kills everyone in England, but re-animates some of the dead. Those who survived find themselves lost and aimless in a decaying world. At first, the story focuses on a group of survivors, but then three of them leave their fragile retreat and find a deserted farm where they try to survive.
As other reviewers pointed out, the zombies don't become dangerous until halfway through the book. The book isn't too badly-written with three compelling characters (although with vague backgrounds), but the book spends more time dealing with their despair at the dead world than anything else. There are endless scenes where the characters literally do nothing but sit around, contemplating the hopelessness of their existence. They encounter the zombies a few times, but most of their encounters involve pushing the zombies away.
Since the heroes find a sanctuary almost immediately, there's not much of a threat. I'm not saying there's not room for a story dealing with the psychological aspects of a zombie story, but there needs to be something else for them to do. I also was confused by why they gave up on life so quickly. There was never a scene where they confirmed that everyone in England was killed. Couldn't it have been a local phenomenon? And they never even bothered to check to see whether it was a worldwide disaster. The characters immediately came to the conclusion that civilization had ended, and life was over. Unrealistic and that shut off what could have been a compelling story.
There are genuinely well-written and frightening scenes, but those are too few and far-between. Maybe the other novels get more in-depth, but I think the author should have given us more in the first book. As it is, the events of Autumn could have filled five or six chapters, and gotten to the good stuff.
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