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Thursday, June 29, 2023

Throwback Thursday – Dead Sea by Brian Keene

Keene ventures back into the realm of the Zombie with this book. It really isn’t a follow up to The Rising, and the zombies are a bit more traditional here. This time around there is Hamelin’s Revenge, which is a disease that is passed thru saliva and blood, rather than demonic possession. Initially it only seems to affect a few species, but then it starts to jump into previously immune creatures. Before you know it there are zombie pets, horses, cattle, and God knows what else wandering the streets looking for a meal. The central character in the book is Lamar. After being forced from his home by the fires sweeping thru the overrun city he ends up on a Coast Guard ship with a few other survivors. Deciding the sea is their best chance they get the vessel seaworthy and get away from the land. But when Hamelin’s jumps into the fish even the ocean isn’t safe.

I really enjoyed this book, much more than his earlier efforts at zombies, The Rising and City of the Dead. It isn’t that those books aren’t good, they are. But I just never really got into the idea that the zombies were reanimated when they were possessed by demons. Call me a purist, but I prefer my zombies old school. With Dead Sea Keene changes things up and has the cause of the uprising a bit more traditional, Hamelin’s Revenge. Get bit or blood on you and soon you will be shuffling around looking for someone to gnaw on. Keene is a great writer and this more traditional take really turned out a great story. He does a wonderful job of making the characters, even the minor ones, jump off the page and be very real. This is key to making it work because then the reader cares about them as he picks them off one at a time, which is really one of the things that zombie fiction is all about. Characters are introduced, we like them, and then bad things happen. 

The book starts off in a familiar setting with Lamar hiding out in his barricaded house, but then moves to the ship at sea, which I thought was neat change. The zombie nerd in me always thought that a ship would be a safe place to hang out if the and when the zombies showed up. Though this proves not to be such a great idea in Keene’s version of a zombie apocalypse. The idea of the plague jumping species was a fun twist with zombie dogs and horses wandering about. But the best are the Zombie whales swimming around the ocean! Yes you heard me correctly there are zombie whales!

Bottom line if you dig zombie fiction and haven’t read Dead Sea you are really missing out.  This is hands down one of the best pieces of zombie fiction that you will ever read.  Brian Keene is the man.  I highly recommend this one.

© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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