Book Review – Salby Evolution by Ian D. Moore

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.

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Book Review – Salby Damned by Ian D. Moore

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The traditional zombie genre has been done to death yet there are still authors who shamble along, moaning plaintively and struggling to eat the brains of their readers.  This is an unfortunate situation because those authors, the ones that focus on the terror and the hordes of undead, completely miss out on the possibilities of the genre.

Ian D. Moore is not on of those lazy hacks who just follows the horde around hoping to pick up on the scraps left by Max Brooks.  Ian made the genre his own and, in so doing, managed to treat the genre as it should be treated: as a story about humans doing human things in an inhuman environment.  Far too many zombie stories focus on the carnage instead of the people living through what is essentially a walking – or shambling – disease.  Zombies can, and arguably should, be used as a type of social commentary; an indictment on our hubris as a species.  Conveniently enough, Ian manages to do just that without getting all preachy at the same time.  I hate it when stories get all preachy; I get it, I’m a bad person, can we move on with the story?

Salby Damned follows a group of survivors struggling to find a resolution to a problem that they ultimately created.  The true showcase of the story isn’t the infected (as they’re called in the story), but rather how regular people can overcome extraordinary odds and grow in the process.  It’s also a tale of how regular people can let their greed overrun their senses and how a dastardly act can have far-reaching consequences.

I’m not going to do a full outline of the plot here so you can read the story and let it unfold with me giving up any spoilers.  It’s a wild ride, so hold on tight.  Suffice it to say the story lives up to its premise.

“A small rural town in a ruthless fight between The Shale Gas Fracking Corporation and The Residents Association sees the multi billion pound energy company drilling beneath the town with catastrophic results. A freelance reporter teams up with a mysterious council leader in a fight to save humanity against one of science’s most fearsome and deadly creations. They must race to find a cure whilst battling against hordes of flesh eating zombies intent on one thing and one thing only………..KILLING!”

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