Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review: The Living End

James Robert Smith, 2011, Severed Press

There are approximately 60 million domesticated canines currently living in the United States. When the walking dead rise, when society collapses...what happens to the dogs?

This is just one of the central issues uniquely addressed in The Living End that make this novel such a powerful and refreshing addition to the zompocalyptic genre. Simultaneously delving deeply into the role of religion in creating (or demolishing) societies, the feral dog thread - mostly presented from the POV of one of the canine pack-leaders - is utterly engrossing and original, not to mention genuinely frightening at times. There's an all-too-convincing nihilism to The Living End that puts one in mind of the excellent Eden novels, and Smith's take on the zompocalypse is right up there with Tony Monchinski's work.

Convincing characters, excellent dialogue and prose, and a tension-packed plot that keeps the reader guessing all the way...I'm not going to use the phrase 'instant classic', here, but I will say that this is a zombie novel that deserves to be read.

In conclusion, The Living End is one of those tales that proves, once again, that skilled authors can keep cooking up the 'same old' zompocalypse, provided they can season each new dish with unique and exciting condiments. James Robert Smith has managed to do just that.

The Living End is available to Australian readers via Severed Press, or through selected bookshops.

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