Monday, 25 August 2014

Flu (2010) by Wayne Simmons - Zombie Horror Book Review

I met the author of Flu; Wayne Simmons at last years Leicester based Zombiefest and found him to be a really nice and friendly guy. I picked up this book whilst there and have finally gotten around to reading it. Flu is set in Northern Ireland, the only Irish zombie tale I knew of before this was the average Boy Eats Girl film.

A deadly new strain of flu swept Ireland that the government were struggling to contain due to it being airborne. The infected were quarantined but things rapidly devolved as the authorities went to more and more desperate methods to deal with the outbreak. The virus mutates again with the result being that the victims of the disease reanimate upon their deaths. Six weeks later and the survivors are few. A woman named Geri meets some thugs, meanwhile another woman finds herself under the protection of a middle aged man; Pat who used to be a gunrunner for the IRA. Elsewhere retired Major Connor Jackson is called back into service and whisked away to a secret Army base where bizarre experiments on the undead are being performed.

These three plot lines run concurrently and for the most part are entirely separate from each other and provide stories that have different feeling and emotions to them. The most interesting one was that of Geri and the people she ends up surviving with. Characters who initially seem to be bad get moulded via their actions into people to root for. Ones who appear to be good guys are revealed to be far more human. In general the events here feel much more real than the usual stereotypes, characters are shown to have a whole range of emotions and motives. Pat and Karen have a more insular dynamic going on with much of their time being in confinement from the outside world. Pat has regret for some of his shady past and sees this new world as a way to make amends almost. For Karen Flu charts the loss of her innocence whether for good or bad. Jackson's storyline is much more simple and has some traditional elements from the zombie genre but is interesting nonetheless.

The zombies of Flu are a mixed bag, they are able to hunt in packs and show limited signs of intelligence, feed on human flesh and are slow and lethargic. The flu virus makes the victim bleed out of every orifice, the results is that the zombies here are pretty much deaf meaning guns are at the forefront of the action. As grim as this world is I think it is preferable to the chocking suffocation of David Moody's Autumn series where any noise is sure to draw the attention of the undead.

Nothing much seems to happen during the book yet the characters were so interesting that I didn't mind at all, they are more fleshed out, in part due to flashbacks of events that happened before the apocalypse. It is a common problem in zombie books that people have no idea how to combat the living dead, here is no different with the idea of zombies seemingly unknown to the survivors until they are faced with them. An airborne virus being the root cause spices things up as any character at any time can suddenly contract the virus even if they are safe in hiding. this lends a more tense aspect.

All the troubles Northern Ireland has faced in the past contrast with the present, issues becoming less important when people must unite to survive but in the realistic way Simmons writes some things are hard to forget. His down to earth writing is what wins the book for me, sometimes bloody and violent, other times more sedate. Sometimes he travels down paths somewhat too predictable but is always well written and vivid.

Flu is well worth a read if your into your zombie fiction and due to the somewhat open ending I was pleased to see there is a sequel titled 'Fever', so will have to check that out!


No comments: