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Claude Lalumiere's Fantastic Fiction
Monster Island

by David Wellington

(Thunder's Mouth Press, $13.95, 272 pages; trade paperback, published April 2006.)

cover scanThe past few years have seen a sharp rise in the popularity of zombies, with the release and success of numerous anthologies, movies, comics, and role-playing games. David Wellington adds something truly original to the lore with Monster Island, the first volume of his zombie trilogy.

Monster Island is a delightfully inventive and fast-paced hybrid of several genres: horror, science fiction, postcolonial fiction, pulp adventure yarn, and disaster thriller. An as yet unexplained cataclysm has released a plague of mindless zombies all over the world; now, unless their corpses are destroyed, the dead rise, with an insatiable hunger for live human meat.

Worldwide, governments and civil order have collapsed. Amidst the international chaos, an African warlord kidnaps the daughter of a former UN worker and forces him to travel to UN headquarters in New York with a team of young female soldiers. Their mission: find AIDS medication. But the city is densely overrun with zombies.

Meanwhile, a New York man, seeing his fate as inevitable, engineers a method of turning into a zombie without becoming mindless.

The two stories intersect, as more (but not all) secrets behind the zombie plague are unveiled and more mysteries come to the forefront.

Wellington spins a gripping yarn, deftly plays with genre expectations, and creates numerous visually powerfully scenes. He also manages to write a novel that is both satisfyingly self-contained and intriguing enough to make at least this reader eager to continue the series.

Originally published, in slightly different form,
The Montreal Gazette, Saturday, 22 July 2006.

Claude Lalumière's Fantastic Fiction is a series of
capsule reviews first published in the Saturday Books
section of The Montreal Gazette.

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