Joseph Souza’s Review of AGE OF THE DEAD
Gareth Wood’s new novel, AGE OF THE DEAD, is the follow-up to his successful predecessor RISE, which utilized a journal style format to tell the story of Brian Williams escape to safety during the zombie outbreak. While the journal style was an interesting plot device in its own right, though of a very limited narrative scope, Woods use of the 1st person in this novel definitely expands and enriches the story architecture of this novel by integrating traditional story methodology with plot and dialogue.
I hesitate to regurgitate the entire plot, as it is easy enough to read the synopsis as well as the preceding reviews. But suffice to say that the author has created an exciting and adventurous tale of a salvage team’s rugged journey into the Rocky Mountains and beyond. He creates a vivid picture of the small towns and the undead that inhabit them. I particularly enjoyed the much richer development of his characters, including Williams and his crew as well as the ones he encounters along the way. His use of 1st person narrative certainly facilitated the complexity of both his characters and the interpersonal dynamics between them. Even better, in my opinion, was the detailed descriptions of the Rocky Mountain locale, the isolated airport and of course Cold Lake. It allowed me to visualize the scenery and at times placing me smack dab in the middle of the action.
The undead make many dramatic appearances in this novel and will no doubt sate the appetites of the most blood thirsty horror fan. They make their presence known throughout many of the wilderness scenes, even brutalizing members of Williams crew. For me though, the most interesting part of the novel was the small community they discover living on a secluded mountain peak. The cast of characters that had been living on that mountain were all different in race, personality and temperament, and their reaction to Williams arrival engendered an interesting plot twist. Personally, I would have never left that self-sufficient compound, but Williams manages to convince a few of them to return back to base camp, and that journey propels the last part of the novel as we follow them on their harrowing journey home.
Woods has definitely stepped up his game with AGE OF THE DEAD, creating some very memorable characters while weaving them into horror-filled scenes of zombie gore and wilderness mayhem. My only criticism is that I believe the plot could have been improved with the use of a stronger story arc combined with enhanced character motivation. He easily could have expanded the scene where they returned to the scientist’s lab to recover the plague’s source, and made that the central mission the novel’s plot. But other then that minor quip, I found myself fully engaged in Woods’ novel and eager to return with Williams and his crew to the bloodied and battered Rocky Mountains, or wherever the next installment takes me, although strictly as a reader.
I’d rate AGE OF THE DEAD 4.5 out 5 Stars.