by Craig Jones
By Michael E. Esser
Smashwords Edition: 2011
1 / 5 zedheads
Am I the right person to write a review for The Deadz, I ask myself? The reason I ask is that it took all of my discipline to read right through to the end of this zombie story. It has been an often-used horror tag line that the lucky ones die first. Oh, what I would give to be one of the lucky ones today. I simply could not take to either the writing style or content of The Deadz, and it failed to engage me at any point.
A zombie infestation has taken over the world as a result of man’s will to find a ‘cure all’ for our ills. The USA, having produced no undead of its own, is believed by the rest of the international community to be hiding a cure and, therefore, is chosen as a dumping ground for the world’s undead. Due to the different strains of drugs used, the zombies are either crawlers, runners or talkers. This, I felt, was where the author was going to crank up the tension. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen for me.
I think the exciting prospect of three distinct types of zombies is mainly nullified by the clumsy writing style. It feels like Esser is stuck somewhere between writing a screenplay and a novel. At times, the magic third wall is broken down as the prose basically tells us what "we can make out," and that just did not do it for me. Written in the present tense, the author quite often slips into the past tense (“He then placed an oxygen mask over the old man’s face and begins to administer him some sort of gas.”). Additionally, and this is a personal bug bear of mine, spelling mistakes in the prologue never put a reader (let alone a reviewer) in a good mood. There is a big difference between using "there" or "their" when what is actually meant is "they’re."
There is a distinct lack of tension as everything exciting seems to happen "without warning" or "with no warning" or even "out of nowhere." Due to the writing style, there is no development of empathy with the characters. The idea of a Nazi scientist in 2012 worries me. How old would this guy have to be? What is frustrating is that once Esser gets to the action sequences, he does a really good job of making them vivid, even if in a screenplay manner. Maybe that is the way to go with this story: turn the whole thing into a screenplay and submit it that way. Until then, I am afraid, this story and its sequel are, well, ‘deadz’ to me!
Craig Jones is the author of two novels, A Stranger’s Welcome and Outbreak: The Zombie Apocalypse (published by E-Volve Books), as well as the zombie novella What Happened to Rhodri and the Gem Vampire Hitwoman series (Published by TWB Press).
Craig is originally from South Wales and has held a wide range of jobs -- from tennis player to gym manager to health service worker. Craig and his wife Claire recently welcomed the arrival of their first child, Shane. Follow Craig on Twitter @cjoneshorror and visit www.craigjoneshorror.co.uk