Kings of the Dead

Kings of the Dead - Tony Faville This book is written as a journal spanning about 3 detailed years followed by a long, drawn out denouement that covers another 6 years after a zombie apocalypse that nearly extincts humans. It's written from the point of view of a survivalist who had prepared for a civilization-ending event, though he's not a rightwing paramilitary type. In fact, the language (PAW, BOL, BZ, HF, etc) and the suppositions the author makes about the nature of the post-apocalypse world lead me to believe the author has more than a passing familiarity with Zombie Squad.

It is a very, very quick read. There are no artfully crafted sentences that are worth underlining and coming back to. I found the characterization was just enough to keep the story moving, but at no point did I really feel engaged with any of the survivors mentioned. Early on, the narrator mentions that he's keeping the journal for posterity's sake, rather than a way to process his feelings. In retrospect, this feels like a gimmick to allow the author to avoid filling out the characters and let him focus on what the book really seems to be about: surviving in a zombie-infested world where humans are few and far between.

On that level, it's a great introduction to the popular concepts of survivalism. Again, the author takes great pains to avoid any proselytizing about ideology and clearly avoids politics and religion. At no point did I fill like I was reading any sort of diatribe about the way the government works or who's god is more right than anyone else's, a very welcome change from most survivalist books I've seen.

Fans of zombie thrillers may be a bit disappointed; being in journal format, all the action happens in past tense and is written as a terse recollection. Additionally, the narrator's band of survivors have incredibly good luck traveling about and locating heavy weapons. It felt very much like the author was going out of his way to setup a situation where his protagonists were ideally prepared for a cross country trip.

Sure enough, he sends them on a cross country survey of how different groups of humans organize themselves on after civilization breaks down. This is where the book really started to come alive for me, as rather than rehash the basic principles of building secure fortresses, securing supplies and shooting zombies, this part of the book reads like an adventure story - "Two Guys and an M-2" - and finally we have some antagonists who are still alive.

The book concludes with what I can only say is the author's personal wet dream. Without giving away too much of the ending (and you'll see it coming a mile away, anyways) the author does survive into posterity long after his body rots away.

I would recommend this to fans of the post-apocalyptic or survival genres moreso than zombie fans, as zombies are just the convenient backdrop against which the author shares his notions about survival. It was an entertaining couple of hours, and I don't regret reading it, though I doubt I'll be reading it again.