Mad Swine: The Beginning is going to be one of those novels where the zombie fans argue in the message boards about whether or not this qualifies as a zombie novel – even some of the book’s own characters debate over calling them zombies! The “crazies” are infected living, much like 28 Days Later, but due to an ability to regenerate while they sleep, they still need to be killed with a headshot (or decapitation). The infection is suspected of starting with a mutation in the H1N1 vaccines, but some people were immune to the initial outbreak, although those survivors can still be infected by the “crazies.” Also, any bodily fluid can spread the mutated virus, and not everyone realizes right away when they are infected…essentially creating a devastating apocalypse in a small amount of time.
The main character, Matt, is at work on a college campus when he realizes there is some kind of virus making people go crazy and brutally attack others. The prologue did a magnificent job of setting up the story. I enjoyed the novel’s structure in general, with one exception: when Matt is doing a weapons inventory with his brother, Brian, it goes on far too long. It was almost as if the author Steve Pajak was trying to prove to the readers, “I know my weapons!!” It was completely unnecessary, and momentarily derailed the pace of the story for me.
Matt tries to gather his family members from their various locations in the city, but he underestimates the speed and devastation of the virus, and his emergency plans go down the toilet almost from the onset of the attacks on campus. Matt is determined nonetheless, and eventually he makes it back to his suburban community where the neighbors try to make a stand together. It doesn’t take long for the tension to build up between various communities, and that’s when Pajak decides to throw a cliff-hanger at his readers.
I am definitely hooked on this new series; Mad Swine: The Beginning is a brutal introduction to an apocalypse that will leave you feeling you feeling like you’ve been dragged across broken glass & a salted highway.