I had always planned to do some book reviews as part of my blog. Actually, the original plan was to do one review each month, based on a book that I had just read in the preceding few weeks. With a goal of hitting at least 30 books in the year, that should be an easy feat. Those of you who have read my earlier posts are aware that 2016 starting badly and as a result my reading slipped a little. I was too busy being heartbroken and furious, grief stricken and seething in anger, to focus on books. The good news is, I’ve redoubled my efforts this month and am 5 books down, 25 to go by year’s end. YAY me!
One of the books I just finished is Murder Inc. by Owen Baillie. And whilst I should probably be reviewing that … I’m breaking all my self-imposed rules and reviewing a few of his other books. That’s right, a few. You see, Owen has a series underway. It’s the Invasion of the Dead series and he’s three novels in already, with book number 4 due out in a few months. I love this series and can’t wait to get my hands on the next one. I’ll read pretty much anything that falls under the heading of fiction but I do confess to a soft spot for the Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic genre. And Owen does this genre really well …
Book One: Aftermath
For the most part I have nothing but praise for Aftermath.
Firstly, I really enjoyed the fast pace of Aftermath. The author does such a great job of creating momentum and I found it difficult to put it down. I finished it in 2 days. Not a lot of authors can get it right with pace … some go into too much detail and the reader skim reads pages to get back to the action. Baillie controlled the flow of the story so well. Also, he provides enough description to visualise the setting or the situation without going overboard. He managed to keep me engaged and interested from beginning to end! Hand in hand with the pace is the way he’s structured the story … I think it’s great that it starts in a bunker with military and talk of vaccines & then switches to our main characters … it leaves the reader keen to find out how the two are going to connect in later books.
I also liked the character development. The author steers clear of the trap of creating characters who can be stereotyped (e.g. the jock, the geek etc.) and instead created characters that were more realistic. I like that some of their personality traits overlap … there isn’t just one strong guy, strength is something a number of them display. Likewise with intelligence. I had read reviews criticising Aftermath saying too much time was spent on the “relationships” … I totally disagree with them. I thought this was a really clever inclusion and made it more realistic. Faced with horrific situations, people automatically think of those they care about so it makes sense that emotions are a big part of the book. It makes sense also that those emotions would be heightened and that the characters would be discussing them … after all, they are a new “family” unit of sorts and each would be trying to understand their position and relationships within that unit.
Last, but definitely not least, I really loved that the “walkers” are not generic. Baillie created a whole other point of interest by having “levels” of walkers. It’s interesting to the reader to imagine that the virus is somehow interacting with DNA or personality traits and creating a hierarchy within what appears to be the new dominant species. Or at least that’s how my imagination interpreted it.
All in all, a fantastic book. As an Aussie, I was so pleased to read a book of this genre set in Australia.
Book Two: Survival
A fantastic follow up to Aftermath. I’d be hard pressed to say which of the two books I prefer. There are some elements of Survival that I particularly enjoyed though.
Firstly, as always, characters! I enjoyed the introduction of the newbies. Like most readers, I developed a favourite and of course become invested in the plight of that individual. I don’t want to spoil the story for people yet to read it but lets just say it’s always sad if a character departs but having said that I think it’s essential to the “realism” of the story. In reality we lose people we feel an affinity for & so it should be in novels. Baillie has stayed true to the first book in keeping a focus on the characters interactions & relationships.
Secondly, the feeders – great development along those lines. Drawing a clearer distinction between the “base zombie” & type 3 really opens up the possibilities for the story. Initially, after reading Aftermath, I was assuming the virus was magnifying a latent “anger/rage” element of the infected person but now I’m left wondering if it’s something more? It almost reads like the evolution of a new species or sub-species. I don’t know if that was intended or not but it’s an interesting new layer.
And lastly, as per the author’s previous book … I really enjoy the way he controls the flow of the story – too slow a pace and it’s easy for the reader’s mind to wander.Too fast and the reader feels rushed. Baillie has a knack for building momentum and controlling the flow of the story.
Another fantastic book.
Book Three: Escape
Yet another fantastic novel by this outstanding Australian author! I loved the first two books in the series but I have to say book 3, “Escape”, is probably my favourite so far.
True to form, Baillie has kept up the pace of the first two novels. There’s something about this quick pace that just builds momentum and makes it hard to put the book down. As a reader, I know the best books are the ones that keep me up all night and leave me with no regrets the next morning when I stumble to work after a couple of hours sleep!
As always, the characters and their relationships are a focal point and I love the sense of community that is developing. Crucial to any story line is an element of what’s believable. Faced with a world come undone, the notion of community and human interaction would also be challenged and re-imagined. The struggle to keep some semblance of normality in a world no longer recognisable.
This book also further expands on the virus and it’s impact on the infected, the changes they are going through, all of which adds an interesting layer to the story.
I also love the way the book is structured. It’s essentially divided into three interconnecting story-lines, each with their own set of characters, and the result of this kind of structure is some “mini” cliffhangers during the course of the book. And whilst we’re on the subject of cliffhangers … what a finish this book has! It definitely leaves you desperately wanting to know what happens next!
So … that’s the first three books of the Invasion of the Dead Series. The exciting news is, the series will be nine books long in total. So plenty of reading material yet to come! Do yourself a favour, try them out 🙂