Tag Archive: Permuted Press


It’s hard to believe that so much horror and gut-wrenching sadness could ever originate from the likes of the cherubic-looking gentleman featured in the picture to the right.  He could be your next door neighbor or the teller at a local bank.  Luckily for zombie aficionados, he’s neither.  In fact, he’s none other than the celebrated zombie author, Craig DiLouie.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I just got around to reading “The Infection”, which has been on my To Read list for some time now.  Had I known what kind of tale was in store – I’d have picked it up sooo much sooner.  In fact, I’m so excited about this book, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve written and rewritten this review to try and get it right!

DiLouie’s greatest strength is in his ability to move the story along at a fast yet organic pace.  There isn’t a single spot of unimportant or boring information, and the characters develop on their own without DiLouie playing God and throwing random obstacles at them for the sake of their growth within the story.  Each character seems real from the first time the reader meets them, and they stay that way until the very end.  There’s Kid, who spent his whole life being bullied at school only to find he was tailor-made for the apocalypse.  We have Wendy, the she-cop who’s too beautiful to be taken seriously, but ultimately finds her way to acceptance.  Anne, the enigmatic group leader who never lets her guard down.  There are others in the ragtag group, each as important as the last.

The actual zombie infection is multi-faceted as well.  It starts with an event called The Screaming, which is the sudden and agonizing death of a large percentage of the populace, and eventually moves on to The Children of Infection.  The Children of Infection are horrific abominations that are  driven out of hiding when the cities begin to burn.  They include my personal favorite, the Hoppers.  They are naked monkey-like organisms that end in grasshopper legs.  DiLouie deftly blends modern zombie and apocalyptic fiction with the 50s style monster genre, creating infection vectors that are, quite literally, larger than life.

As if DiLouie weren’t talented enough, he’s also able to elicit a visceral reaction from his readers.  I found myself inadvertently yelling at my Kindle while my favorite character was devoured by one of the Children of Infection.  I hadn’t seen it coming, and I knew it wasn’t a crack shot from the author.  It was, unfortunately, what was to be expected of any zombie novel worth the paper on which it’s printed.  Characters must die, whether they’re the hero or the scumbag.  Everyone alive during Infection is living on borrowed time, and nobody knows it better than the characters.

I was so impressed by “The Infection” that I almost flipped to the first page to read it again.  While I’ve already discussed DiLouie’s writing style, there is one more very important tidbit I’d like to leave my readers with.  DiLouie handles flashbacks and character back story in a unique way.  He titles his chapters after the pertinent character, and makes sure that anything that happened in the past is written in past tense.  That sounds easy enough, but then when the reader is immersed, the story is written in the present.  This causes the reader to feel as though they’ve been swept along into the story with the characters.  It also builds a sense of urgency and fear that moves the story along.  Instead of experiencing the story as a casual observer, the reader is forced to take greater interest because the story is taking place in the here and now.

Thankfully, this book will appeal to readers of all levels of zombie experience, from the die-hard survivalist who is counting the days until the apocalypse, to the closet-zombie reader.  Whatever you do, go and purchase this book RIGHT NOW!  Especially because rumor has it (as in, craigdilouie.com has it) that there will be a sequel entitled The Killing Floor out sometime early this year.  I promise you – this book needs to go straight to the top of your reading list…right now!

(You can view the ultra-creepy book trailer on Youtube.com here!)

 

 

 

 

Death falls

Cover of "Empire: A Zombie Novel"

Cover of Empire: A Zombie Novel

I finished reading David Dunwoody’s “Empire’s End” a few weeks ago but haven’t been able to post anything because I’ve been so doggone busy writing exams.  I feel rather bad about this because it really is a great book.

The first book, “Empire” was an impulse purchase at a local bookstore.  When I saw online that the second book had come out, my eyes bugged out and I immediately bought it.  It arrived in the mail pretty soon and I was able to start it tout suite.

I was surprised at how easily I was able to pick up on the story again, after having read the first story so long ago.  In many ways, “Empire’s End” feels more like a prequel than a sequel.  There is more background on Eviscerato, the circus ringleader who becomes infected, as well as on the plague itself.  My edition of the book also included a story about how the plague began and a re-print of Grinning Samuel.  I think the coolest part was how the supplemental material connected to the first and second books.  Everything made sense.

Dunwoody explores the origins of Death and what happens when it becomes more than an anthropomorphic personification, as well as what happened to some of the original survivors.  There is a boat-ton of gore and zombies (just how I like it!) as well as some new interesting characters.

If I were to pick the scariest thing about the book – Eviscerato’s band of miscreant circus performers turned zombie horde.  Think Left 4 Dead – only worse.  There’s a flame-thrower, a petrified man, and all sorts of others.  Scary stuff – especially considering that head honcho Eviscerato is a sentient zombie, capable of consciously amassing a zombie army and laying siege to a city.

There was one problem, however.  At the end of the book, I didn’t understand Lily’s relationship to Death.  (I’m sorry, Mr. Dunwoody – sometimes I miss things.)  That didn’t deter me from enjoying this book.

On the other hand, I really loved how easy it was to transition from one set of characters to another within the story.  Dunwoody wrote about the characters long enough to advance the plot, and then when he reaches a cliffhanger – it’s off to another set of characters.  In some books it’s hard to keep track of who people are, and why I should care about them, and by the time I know it’s time to read about other forgettable characters.  This certainly isn’t the case with “Empire’s End”.

I haven’t heard any news yet about a third “Empire” book, but I’m really hoping that one is written.  And soon!  I think even though the loose ends were tied up, there is still room to move within the “Empire” world.

“Empire’s End” was a fitting and natural continuation of the first book, and I highly recommend reading both (and then joining me in bugging the author to write a third!)

Hola…

Cover of "Dying to Live: A Novel of Life ...

Cover via Amazon

Hello everyone!  I’m sorry that it’s taken so awfully long to get back to posting.  I just got my first real teaching job and I’m overwhelmed with excitement (and work!)  In addition, apparently I’m about to move houses in two months.  While that’s exciting, it will certainly be a handful!  Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to read or even post on the movies that I’ve seen, but I do hope to rectify that soon enough.  Perhaps this weekend, if I get some spare time.  In any event, I’m glad to be back.

I do have a few special announcements for all of you, all of which I’ve been waiting for some time now.  Permuted Press announced the release date for the third (and as far as I know, final) book of Z.A. Recht’s smash trilogoy “The Morningstar Saga”.  It’s titled “Survivors”, and word is that it will be released on December 27, 2011.  As much as I dearly hate the snow, it would almost be worth more of it to get to that book release date sooner.

Other releases of note include “Dead Bait 2” (a Severed Press title), which features a “Jaws” send-up as its cover picture.  There’s nothing quite like a monstrous piranha swimming up towards a naked woman in open water to instill fear.  Did I mention that the piranha was decayed?  Zombie piranha !  From what I gather the authors include Steve Alten, Ramsey Campbell, Guy N. Smith, Tim Curran, James Robert Smith, Murphy Edwards, Cody Goodfellow, Anthony Wedd, Paul A. Freeman, Raliegh Dugal, James Harris,  Michael Hodges, and Matthew Fryer.

Kim Paffenroth‘s third book in the “Dying to Live” series is out as well.  This title features a carnival tent cover and is titled “Last Rites”.  This book finished up where “Life Sentence” left off – following William, Lucy (Blue Eye), and Truman as they leave the encampment.

Cover of "Plague of the Dead (The Morning...

Cover via Amazon

What a book !  I just finished Plague of the Dead today – and it was one of the best books I’ve ever read in the zombie genre.  Recht’s book is fantastic !

The characters in the book are very believable.  None of them stand around and whine about their situation, or give superfluous background information that isn’t necessary.  I think its’ better not to know too much about the characters.  When something like a zombie apocalypse occurs, things tend to change.  For that matter, people tend to change.  When the only motive is staying alive for another minute, people show more of who they are, whether its in caring for other people or putting themselves first at all costs.

The characters are not stereotypical by any means.  In fact, they are quite the opposite.  Heading the survivor camp is General Francis Sherman, a man who likes the civilians he protects, and in some cases even allows them to fight alongside the enlisted men.  Julie Ortiz, an investigative journalist, holds for weeks against mental and physical torture when being held captive for leaking vital information to the public about the Morningstar Strain.  There are more characters, but I refuse to spoil all the fun – go read the book !

Recht is very detailed about the virus, to the extent that often it becomes hard to remember that the Morningstar Strain does not exist.  When someone is first infected they experience severe flu-like symptoms which turn into a kind of mania.  The mania phase causes them to sprint after uninfected persons (attempting to find more hosts for the virus).  When the host body dies, the virus takes over fully and propels the bodies along as “shamblers”.  The transition from sprinter to shambler is a great way to bring together two ends of the zombie spectrum – those that think zombies should run, and those that think zombies should shamble – thereby having something for everyone.

Plague of the Dead was really difficult to put down in order to do other things.  Every page seemed to teem with a relentless assault from the living and (truly?) dead.  I get irritated when zombie books act like the apocalypse contains isolated, infrequent zombie attacks.  When I think about the population of the United States, and the world, I find it impossible that the streets wouldn’t be filled to the brim with carriers, zombies, and people dying.  Plague of the Dead depicted this kind of anxiety and adrenaline filled world.

Overall it was a phenomenal book !  I highly recommend that you go and pick this book up NOW.

This was the book that started my literary zombie craze, as well as the Permuted Press publishing company.  My boyfriend purchased it for me as a present for Christmas 2009.  Unfortunately I am not able to give much insight into the plot because it is very complex, and any spoilers will ruin the experience for any prospective readers.  Suffice it to say, you NEED to read this book.

The plot is easy to follow and is very indicative of the genre in general.  It can be summed up as : people during the zombie apocalypse trying to survive.  However, this book turns out to be so much more than the usual struggle for survival.  At points in the book, I found myself crying, laughing, and terrified out of my wits.  From the first sentence in the book all the way to the end it was captivating and terrifying.  Dying to Live was so good, in fact, that I stayed up all night and read the entire book.

Characters can make or break a zombie novel – and the characters in Dying to Live leave nothing to be desired.  The story follows the travels and experiences of Jonah Craine, who is an ordinary man trying to survive in a zombie-ravaged world.  Throughout the book he grapples with the notion of staying human despite the monotony of trying to find a safe hiding place, survive day after day, and find food.  He is a strong character, though not to the point of being unnatural.  The other characters that Jonah encounters bring a sense of emotional balance to the story.  One such character is Popcorn, the young boy who became part of the group after his mother was killed by zombies.  While Jonah views the undead with respect and apprehension, Popcorn’s experiences have created a violent and proficient fighter who attacks with a reckless and daring style.  Another character of note is Tanya, a mother who lost her two children early in the fall of civilization.  She adopts Popcorn and raises him as her own.  Her strength and violence are different from those of Popcorn, hers are based in the resignation that comes with knowing that everything familiar has changed, and adaptation is neccesary for survival.

This book also features one of the most interesting anti-zombie compounds that I have come across.  It is part museum, part natural barrier, and allows for an ease of access to supplies in the city that I haven’t encountered before.  The best part is that it is based, in part, on a real location which he discusses in an author letter at the end of the book.

The aspect of the book that appealed to me the most was the rebuilding of civilization.  Theoretically, all government and law ends when the dead begin to walk, so now what do people do?  Using two surviving groups, Kim Paffenroth deftly shows two diverse paths that humanity can take when all order is destroyed.  One path is lead by a compassionate and pragmatic leader who uses group initiation rites and individual responsibility to motivate, while the other uses violence, intimidation, and control.  I can’t give away any more than that, but I will reiterate that this is a book that is not to be missed !

Pros:

  • Very engaging storyline with interesting plot twists.
  • Realistic and complex characters with a variety of histories and motives.
  • Interesting zombie-human conflicts with realistic outcomes.
  • Amazing descriptions of the rebuilding of civilizations, from the point of view of several survival groups.

Cons:

  • The end of the book leaves you wanting to know more about the plight of Jonah and his companions.  Fear not !  The book is followed by a sequel, Dying to Live: Life Sentence.