The New Ecology of Death by James Robert Smith surprised me with how much I enjoyed this story. I’m not usually sympathetic to the undead. The POV switches between the main characters, but the perspective of the zombie, Alex Wenzler is a great way to hook readers.
His wife Beth has remarried a CDC employee, Davis, which is an important factor later in the story. First, you have to get past the fact that almost every character takes a moment to praise the decision of the US government to confiscate all guns from citizens. Several characters are convinced that this was key to surviving the undead outbreak, since people wouldn’t be able to behave so recklessly with their privately owned weapons. Not sure gun enthusiasts are going to like that aspect much. It was definitely a very non-traditional approach to a zombie story. I half-expected the characters to fight the zombies with hugs and hot chocolate.
Over six-thousand people are still unaccounted for, after the near end-of-the -world, and the undead seem to be regaining their memories, including survival instincts. There is great foreshadowing and build-up of suspense, but the momentum stalls every time a character pauses to think about how glad he or she is that the government took everyone’s guns.
The details of Alex Wenzler’s self-awareness is the jewel of this story, but the mutation of the undead is positively mind-blowing! Once the focus is completely on Alex, the story soars.
It could be a stand-alone, but the author left one loose-end for a possible series. This is great addition for your horror collection!