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Welcome to Deadland

August 29, 2016

Welcome to Deadland, by Zachary Tyler Linville, was on the new shelf in the SF section at the Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago, so I picked it up and started leafing through it. It starts out interestingly, with a mysterious man in black intentionally infecting people on a train with some kind of virus, and then it alternates “Before” and “After” chapters following two sets of main characters.

398 pages later, though, I was sorry I’d picked it up. The story has nothing new to say about zombies or zombie-ism spreading as a virus, it’s badly written, and the plot doesn’t go anywhere. When I got to the end, I discovered that most of the movement towards revealing the secrets and bringing the action to a head is directed towards a sequel, which I will not be reading.

The zombies in the “after” chapters are pretty standard-issue:
“A horde of the infected block the path in front of them….A rancid smell drifts from the horde, repugnant….It’s a mixture of old blood, rotting flesh, body odor, and human waste. The infected mill around in different states of haggard anger, snarling and growling while bumping or pushing one another.”

In an early “before” chapter, one male character who is attracted to another comes out to him:
“His voice shook from his nerves and discomfort. ‘I’m gay.’
Neither Ellis nor Asher said anything while the declaration lingered between them, the admission soaking into their minds. Ellis looked up at Asher, the fear he once felt was etched into Asher’s face.”
In addition to the fact that this author is telling rather than showing, I’m a bit irritated by the repetition of comma splices as sentence structure.

In the last “after” chapter, we are told that “Brandon’s features matched the animalistic nature that had consumed Mark.”  I guess this kind of writing happens because saying it more simply would reveal the cliches even more clearly.

Perhaps part of it is that the book is aimed at a younger audience? Certainly it pushed me away harder than my youngest child ever has with passages like this one from a “before” chapter:
“She wanted him to check flight prices. She didn’t want Asher on the road in case of a snowstorm. Standard mom worries.”

And what place does food snobbism have in the “after” chapters of a zombie novel?
“Rico’s stomach growls and he retrieves chicken noodle soup from his stash. Most of the flavor is overpowered by an abundance of sodium, but it sates his hunger.”

I think I could have read a book that started out like this one and been less angry at the end if there had been a plot resolution. This author’s ambitions are just too big for his material.

Have you ever been irritated by reading an entire work of fiction and finding out at the end that you’d have to read a second and then maybe even a third to get any resolution to the plot that was set up?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2016 6:32 pm

    Thank you for not sending this to me. You made the right call.

    • August 29, 2016 9:23 pm

      I wish it had been a good book, because I think you could use one. I’ll have to keep looking.

  2. August 29, 2016 9:19 pm

    See, this is a type of case where reading the end truly benefits me. If I’m not wild about a book, and I read the end and find it uninspiring, it confirms me in my decision to set the book down and save myself some aggravation. Admittedly I am trigger-happy about setting down zombie books, because zombies are my least favorite supernatural being (oo, I should write a post ranking them), but still: Reading the end. Saves you trouble.

    • August 29, 2016 9:22 pm

      You know, I almost wrote about how reading the end DID NOT SAVE ME FROM THIS BOOK! Because I actually did look at the end, at one point, at it looked to me like the kind of conversation they were having could only be had on the other side of a resolution to their troubles. But I was wrong. Sadly.

    • August 30, 2016 6:39 pm

      Jenny, have you read Zone One? It’s also a zombie book but truly that’s not the point of the book. I liked it a lot.

      • August 31, 2016 9:32 am

        On June 20, 2014 (in the comments to this blog) Jenny said she had tried Zone One and didn’t care for it.

  3. September 2, 2016 2:13 pm

    Well that’s too bad. My husband loves all hings zombie so I will warn him about this one so he can avoid it. I know I have read books before that left it hanging so I’d have to read one or two more books but that were so bad I couldn’t keep going. What they are I don’t recall as I have had them scrubbed from memory 🙂

    • September 2, 2016 2:30 pm

      One book that required me to read another and wasn’t bad was by Connie Willis, her alternate history WWII series. But I had such a bad taste in my mouth after reading the first one and finding out there was no resolution that I’ve still never read the second.

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