A sequel to the excellent Salby Damned, Salby Evolution does something a lot of zombie books are afraid to do: it takes on the story after the story and adds some new twists to it.
That’s a very good thing.
Zombies got really popular after Max Brooks released World War Z. Unfortunately most zombie books didn’t really add much to the genre. Salby Damned changed that dynamic a bit by focusing on the characters stuck in the middle of an insane situation and the clever ways they found to get out of it. It threw in a government angle and tossed us a curve ball by making chronic zombieism something that could be treated. Salby Evolution takes that concept and runs with it.
In the Salby books (and, arguably, a lot of zombie literature) the zombies are created by a virus. Where a lot of people go astray with that is not looking at all the weird things viruses can do. In my humble opinion, Max Brooks made a mistake by claiming the Solanum virus was 100% fatal. No virus is 100% fatal. Even the nastiest versions of Ebola have survivors. Of course, that wasn’t the point of Brooks’ book – he wanted to look at a world that had gone completely mad and how people coped with it.
Moore did take the time to use a bit about viruses and their unfortunate habit of mutating. A mutated virus may have drastically different effects from the original strain and that’s the jumping off point for Salby Evolution. He’s also the first zombie author I’ve come across that gets exactly what people and governments would do when faced with a zombie outbreak: namely, try to weaponize it. Think about it: a zombie outbreak would be the ultimate area denial weapon and controllable zombies would make excellent soldiers.
Take zombies as a virus, the idea of governments trying to weaponize the virus, tie a bow on it, and drop the whole thing into Russia, and you’ve got a heck of a good mixture for a story.
One interesting note: Evolution sees Moore expanding his writing skills by interjecting a 1st-person point of view into an otherwise 3rd-person narrative. This concept of P.O.V. switching is something that was verboten not that long ago, but is becoming more acceptable. It’s not an easy task to pull off, keeping the story flowing as you bounce from the whole story to an individual’s take on the whole thing, but Moore handles it well. I’ve read books where there were ham-fisted attempts at switching from 1st to 3rd person and they can be baffling reads, but Moore takes the time to make sure the reader can digest the change in direction. Each swap takes place at a clear break and, I found, it added a personal dimension to the larger story.
Remember – and this is for you writers out there – the cardinal rule is never confuse the reader.
In the end, Ian Moore has given us a truly unique twist on the zombie story. It’s part horror story, part love story, part military action, and part political intrigue, all seamlessly fused together into a very enjoyable story that sets us up the thrilling third book.
Hear that, Ian? We want the third book now.