The second book in Timothy W Long’s trilogy picks up exactly where the first left off. It’s been a few days since an inexplicable virus began transforming people into flesh-hungry deaders. The majority of the survivors are living as refugees in what was once a very popular football stadium. The story follows several groups as they attempt to understand what is going on and why people are turning into brutal savages. Among those fortunate enough to have endured the initial outbreak is Kate, a woman whom you would do well not to upset. Then there is Shayne, Kara and Dave, who are trapped in their office while the hordes gather outside. Mike – whose story is told, rather cleverly, in first person – is a journalist, or was up until a few days prior. Then there’s Lester, a junkie who wants nothing more than a quick fix to obscure the mayhem surrounding him.
Although Mike’s story is told in first person, this is very much Kate’s tale. She’s almost as brutal as those afflicted with the virus, and it’s her chapters which crank up the action to eleven. Not only is she magnificent with fists and feet, but she would also give Michone from The Walking Dead a run for her money with a sword. Accompanied by various deader-fodder on a rescue mission, she soon finds herself in the thick of it, and makes enemies with a few undesirables on her travels.
The finale set aboard a crammed train is something special. The sense of dread and panic is palpable. If you’re claustrophobic, or dislike public transport at the best of times, you will find yourself with sweaty palms as the deaders mount their final attack on the refugees.
As with all good post-apocalyptic fiction, there are a few characters whose sole purpose is to affect the reader with their stupidity, but Long does a good job of not letting certain individuals outstay their welcome.
That’s not to say that Among the Dead is without its flaws. There are a few characters that do very little to push the story forward. Whether Long has plans for these ancillary fellows in the final instalment remains to be seen.
All in all, Among the Dead is good, solid post-apocalyptic fiction. If you’re a fan of survival horror this is a very good place to sate your appetite. This is very promising stuff from a writer in the early stages of what should be a hugely successful career.
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