Dead World by Joe McKinney

Joe McKinney’s Dead World series hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. His style is visceral and full to the brim with the gory detail you want from zombie fiction. The stories are archetypal journeys of survival. Each iteration expands the world a little, but is different enough to keep it interesting, and keep you reading.

“Dead City” is a world builder for the series. One hurricane after another has decimated the Gulf Coast, flattening cities, overwhelming the infrastructure, and leaving the dead and dying to rot in the flood waters. Those evacuated from this primordial soup of filth and pollution, bring with them a virus that’s bringing the dead back to life.

Told over one brutal night, San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson battles across a city overrun with cannibals, in a desperate search for his wife and infant son. Eddie’s journey has the focus of recently flipped pinball, but the unrelenting pace and gory action keep the plot moving towards a suitably heroic end.

Book One
Book Two

Book two is set in this same universe, a couple of years after the San Antonio outbreak.

When the walls went up around Huston, the government contained the virus, but abandoned thousands in the quarantine zone with the infected. So when a boatload of desperate “refugees” escape this watery hell, they inevitably bring with them the necrosis filovirus.

As the virus escalates from epidemic to pandemic, groups of survivors, including one lead by retired U.S. Marshal Ed Moore, head inland seeking safety. They converge on the North Dakota Grasslands, where a nihilistic preacher is offering anyone who can get there, the chance of a new life.

If the fist book revelled in the musk of heroic individualism, “Apocalypse of the Dead” is about the dark iteration of that same individualism. I’m sure it’s not, but the charismatic cult leader with a hatred of all things governmental, feels like a very American phenomenon. Whatever the truth of that tangent, there’s a clever irony in pitting the two nihilistic end-of-days mythologies against each other.

The third book “Flesh Eater” can best be described as a series prequel.

Set in the midst of the multiple hurricanes that decimate the Gulf Coast and Huston, Emergency Operations sergeant Eleanor Norton battles to keep her husband and young daughter safe, not only from the hoards rising from the tempest waters, but a family of corrupt colleagues, taking advantage of the mayhem to rob a bank.

If books one and two are about the individualism, book three grinds into the mix that other American obsession, the ties that bind, family, duty, and honour.

Book Three
Book Four

The fourth and final book “Mutated” is a sequel, of sorts, to “Apocalypse of the Dead”. If books one and two poke at individualism, this and book three prod at themes around family.

Seven or so years after the events of the North Dakota Grasslands, we find onetime reporter Ben Richardson, barely surviving among the ruins of civilisation, when he crosses paths with Niki, Sylvia, and Avery, fleeing the strictures of compound life, to find a cure for the necrosis filovirus. As Ben, and an expanding group, race to find bite survivor Dr. Don Fisher, uber-zombie and king of the undead, the maniacal Red Man, is intent on stopping them, and bringing the world to heel.

With the future of humanity hanging in the balance, the plot is a foot to the floor, gory action, race to escape, evade, and rescue the world from the undead.


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