The first time that I read Dead City by Joe McKinney was when the book was first released in November 2006. Back then, my son was only a year old, so the scene with Eddie Hudson struggling to release his son from the car seat – while zombies closed in around them – really scared the shit out of me. It was a great stand-alone story; I had no idea that it was going to be part of a series continued years later. I bought Apocalypse of the Dead and Flesh Eaters earlier this year in April; unfortunately, it’s taken me all this time to read and review the books in the existing trilogy.
Dead City is told from the POV of police officer Eddie Hudson in San Antonio, TX. At first, he tries to keep the peace when a viral outbreak (linked loosely to flooding and corpses resulting from several recent hurricanes) turns people violent and cannibalistic, but when Eddie realizes he is dealing with zombies, his new mission becomes reuniting with his wife and infant son, April and Andrew. It’s hard to believe that the majority of the story takes place in the span of one night…it’s a nonstop thriller with lots of gore from start to finish.
Apocalypse of the Dead, McKinney’s second book in his Dead World series, takes place two years after the outbreak in Dead City, and includes more details about the source of the zombie virus and its nature. The military has sealed off the Gulf Coast, trapping thousands of uninfected survivors with the remaining zombies. The newly formed Quarantine Authority cannot hold back the zombies or the people desperate to escape the Q-zone. AOTD changes things up with multiple POVs from characters that slowly converge upon the same time and place in North Dakota, as the rest of the US falls to utter destruction. Worse yet, there is a new strain of the virus making it difficult to identify the infected. The characters are the most striking mix I’ve ever read: convicts, the elderly, porn stars, religious fanatics, and even a blind woman. When the world goes to hell, McKinney throws everyone into the fire.
Flesh Eaters appeared to be a prequel to Dead City and Apocalypse of the Dead, revealing how the outbreak began in Houston, and how it was spread into the other major Texas cities. The characters slowly realize that the multiple hurricane damage that has altered the coastline permanently is the least of their worries. The zombie virus is explained in great detail, and this form of the undead really sets McKinney apart from other authors in the zombie genre.
McKinney has gone to great lengths to make the entire series as realistic as possible, and if you haven’t read all three books yet, I strongly recommend that you put it on your holiday must-read list. I am personally hoping that McKinney will write one more to follow-up on the survivors of Apocalypse of the Dead.