A few things before I start the actual review. I think I’ve mentioned before I like to read. A lot. I have a lot of books, so many that I’m not looking forward to my upcoming house move as we will need to pack them all – I believe we’re numbering close to 1000. Up until a few years ago I would only read physical books. I wasn’t interested in digital books. But I bought a tablet, my sister recommended a few books that were free – now I usually have at least one physical book, one book on my phone Kindle, one on my tablet Kindle and an audio book (currently I have two of those on the go). Not to mention the comics I read digitally too.
What I have found, though, is that I seem to be reluctant to buy Kindle books. That’s not to say I haven’t, but only a handful. Most of the books I read on a Kindle app have been picked up for free. It’s surprising how many good books are available like this, either because the author is new and trying to get into the market, or they’re free as a one off for just a day. I’d certainly recommend giving some of the free books a try, if you haven’t already.
On to the book 🙂
‘Year of the Dead’ by Jack J Lee is, at its heart, an apocalypse story, but with a bit of a twist. Rather than a natural disaster, or a plague, or a plague that turns people into flesh eating zombies, Year of the Dead starts with an alien probe sent out by an advanced species that is monitoring life on the planets it reaches. It’s directive is to preserve any species that it finds in trouble. When it gets to Earth it determines that we are killing ourselves, other species on the planet and our environment due to overpopulation, overuse of natural resources etc etc. Basically all the things we are doing right now.
Any changes the probe does to save the planet has to be done in line with cultural beliefs. Scanning our media it finds our zombie & vampire films and uses this as a basis. It creates a ‘virus’ that turns the majority of humanity into zombies (OK, so I guess it is a story where ‘a plague turns people into flesh eating zombies’ after all) selecting as a priority people who are ill, unhealthy or unfit. A very small percentage of people are turned into vampires. The zombies are slow and unthinking, mindless eating machines. The vampires are stong, fast, predatory but, interestingly to me, ‘programmed’ to be sterile & die after 300 years.
The story is based in Salt Lake City, Utah with a lot of the survivors members of local Mormon Wards. I learnt quite a bit about Mormons during this book. I didn’t realise, for example, that they recommended that their members always keep a stockpile of food in case of emergencies. Obviously, the emergency they are preparing for isn’t necessarily a zombie apocalypse – but it works.
It was the minor details like this and the vampire definitions by the probe that made this, in my opinion, a very intelligent read. Each chapter is from a character describing things as if in a journal entry, or even as a general conversation. The main character who organises the survivors is, by his own admission, a self absorbed narcissist. The story is told at a good pace, introducing the new characters well and keeping you entertained throughout.
On a more general point, this is one of the best edited free books I have read on my Kindle. A lot of the free books I have read in the last few years have had terrible grammar and spelling errors, highlighting a new author. I’m not sure how many books Mr Lee has written (I can see 6 on amazon) but he’s obviously made the effort to ensure his book is well prepared.
‘Year of the Dead’ is still showing as available for free on amazon.co.uk and I would highly recommend it if this is a genre that interests you. I think I may even buy the follow up book ‘Death by Revelation’ 🙂
Have fun, see you around!