Book Review: The Rising & the City of the Dead by Brian Keene

This two books are for me just one. I've read them in my holidays, one after each other.

We learn quickly that the world went insane when some scientists working in one of those secret weapons laboratories experimented with a new particle accelerator. Whoops. The experiment had all sorts of important functions, at least on paper, but warnings that strange incidents could take place went largely ignored by the technicians involved in the project. When reports began surfacing about the recently dead suddenly reanimating and wreaking havoc, people wrote it off as nonsense. Predicatably, the problem soon proved horribly true, resulting in escalating and ever widening scenes of violent death at the hands of the hungry undead. Society went under with astonishing speed as the flesheaters promptly attacked any living creature within reach, thereby exponentially increasing their own numbers while achieving a comparative decrease in human numbers. Electric power, cell phones, the Internet, the government, and radio and television stations began to fail in various parts of the country as the zombies rampaged. This further isolated survivors, although a few stalwart souls doggedly hang on in the face of total insanity.

(Then he kicks it up a notch when he connects the beings possessing the humans as demons thrust into this area called "The Void" by God and are here killing everyone to violate God's "loved ones". Throughout the book there are a few biblical & religious references, but not enough where the average reader will get lost.. its great. )

One of these survivors is Jim Thurmond, a construction worker living in West Virginia. Hiding away in a bomb shelter he constructed in case the world ended from Y2K, Thurmond now uses it to hold off packs of roving beasties, one of them his recently deceased second wife. Jim laments his condition, sick to the very marrow of his being that he will never again see Danny, his son from his first marriage. Thurmond's son lives in far off New Jersey, a long trip under normal circumstances but now seemingly unreachable considering current affairs. Then something amazing happens that sends Jim off on a quest fraught with peril: his nearly dead cell phone rings with a message from his son. Danny whispers into the phone that things are bad where he is at but that he and his mother are currently hiding from the zombies. Thurmond resolves to leave that very minute in order to rescue his son. Just getting out of the bomb shelter presents a host of gruesome problems, problems requiring Jim to commit violence against his former neighbors and even his reanimated wife. Thurmond learns a few other things too, namely that the zombies he encounters do not resemble the shambling creatures from horror movies. The undead in this world possess the ability to think, drive cars, use weapons, and set traps for the living. New Jersey looks further and further away with every passing second.

Other poor souls wander through the deteriorating cities and countryside of the United States. Thurmond meets Martin, an elderly black minister, soon after he leaves his house. The two join forces to find Danny and soon run into plenty of life threatening situations, everything from packs of roving zombies to backwoods cannibals seeking some extra food to undead wildlife. At the same time, Frankie, a down on her luck heroin user and woman of the night who narrowly escapes disaster in the Baltimore Zoo also begins a trek out of the cities and into the country. We also keep tabs on one of the scientists in charge of the particle accelerator as he too seeks his destiny in a world full of the undead. You know all of these people will come together at some point in the novel; seeing how Keene pulls it off is the fun part. The conclusion to the story delivers plenty of gory violence, but also gives us an ending that raises more questions than answers. Keene's story is one of the few mass-market horror paperbacks I have read in the past few years that makes you think after you finish the book.

Several scenes of contrived coincidences, a bit of annoyance concerning Thurmond's robot-like determination to save his son, and a few characters who could have benefited from some better development isn't enough to hurt this book in the least. There is plenty of heavy gore, mach speed pacing, and an imaginative plot that doesn't give you all the answers. Even better, Keene used his apocalyptic tale as a vehicle by juxtaposing unconditional love and hope with death and destruction. "The Rising" is a good tale well told, although if the author plans a sequel perhaps he should reconsider. The conclusion is more powerful left just as it is, something a follow up novel would ruin.

....

Well the author reconsidered and I think he didn't fail.... Well if only one should be printed it would be great...
At the end of THE RISING, Jim had fought his way across several states through zombies and militia to try and reach his son. Just as the book stopped, we did not know what he found at his son's house. This book takes up just before the end of the first with a little repetition and we finally find out the status of Jim's son. Right from the start Jim, Martin, Frankie and the rest of the party are on the run from organized zombies. We have zombies torching houses and mounting high-speed chases. This all gets Jim and company into a New York skyscraper reputed to be impenetrable. The part joins several hundred survivors in the building. Meanwhile Ob and the zombies are mobilizing on a grand scale. Their talk is to wipe out all humans so that the next wave can begin (plants and insects). Death and gore are major parts of this book (as in the first). We learn a little more about the zombies and their purpose. The action builds and builds as the book enters the final phases. With only a dozen pages to go fates are still unknown and the reader has to go right to the final page. Unlike the first book, this does wind up the saga although many readers will probably not like the way the ending is handled.

Here is one review done by other person who have read the book...

"I read the first book in this series The Rising, and i loved it. I thought it was really unique, descriptive, exciting, and the ending although it was harsh, It was okay with me, because not everything has a happy ending. When I saw the sequel "City of the Dead" I assumed that it takes the ending of the rising and went even further, I was right. The same characters are ther (surprise they arent dead! yay!), Jim, Martin, Frankie,Ob, Danny and many many many (more than i can count) more. It takes place in a skyscraper in New York, built by a man who has delusions of grandeur, his name is Ramsey.The zombies, who we now know are demons reanimating the dead bodies to take over the earth to ultimatly destroy it. Ob is the leader, and no he cant fit into your pocket easily when you have your period. Anyway, grossness ensues, maggots, fluids, screaming, defleshing, rats, intestines, rot,sex with dead people...the old standbys, and our "survivors" manage to survive through another onslaught of zombie buffet, They find an underground tunnel, a promise of a bomb shelter, and in the end AGAIN, NO ONE SURVIVES, Keene makes us love these people, love this poor child danny and his father who dies saving him, love the prostitute, the cat God, the homeless pigpen but he KILLS them! and the world is destroyed! SO what was the point of this book? why keep us at the edge of our seat again,when we accepted the death of everyone at the last one, why give us hope that maybe the tiny few would prevail? I thought up untill the last paragraph that they would survive, and whammo, i was knocked off my feet..again! I put the book down and said "if Keene comes out with a book called "garden of the dead" because the plants are the next to be possessed by demons, i am turning the other way". "

And there it is... some persons read cataclysms book to see how persons react and survive.. i've read some.. but this one was execlent.... they all die, you read the last chapters with an urge to see how they are going to survive and then in the last paragraph you see they didn't... I hated the author but i love it.. it put me liking this characters and persons and then he kills it...
I love the ending, you know why? because it made me became sad....

Overall, I've enjoyed the books in all, i've never ever read any horror books but this one was great... I've got some otheres here as well other "end of the world" books....
If you like zombies as the first movies in the 70's and 80's probably you won't enjoy this one... this book sare more than zombies.. they are demons who incorporate the bodies so, they have souls (i guess you can call it souls), zombies in the general way, don't have it.. oh well, read it and judge it yourself...
9.5/10



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