Positive – David Wellington

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Summary:

In the bestselling vein of Guillermo Del Toro and Justin Cronin, the acclaimed author Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining page-turning zombie epic that is sure to become a classic

Anyone can be positive . . .

The tattoed plus sign on Finnegan’s hand marks him as a Positive. At any time, the zombie virus could explode in his body, turning him from a rational human into a ravenous monster. His only chance of a normal life is to survive the last two years of the potential incubation period. If he reaches his twenty-first birthday without an incident, he’ll be cleared.

Until then, Finn must go to a special facility for positives, segregated from society to keep the healthy population safe. But when the military caravan transporting him is attacked, Finn becomes separated. To make it to safety, he must embark on a perilous cross-country journey across an America transformed—a dark and dangerous land populated with heroes, villains, madmen, and hordes of zombies. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger may be his fellow humans.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome meets World War Z and I Am Legend in this thrilling tale that has it all: a compelling story, great characters, and explosive action, making Positive the ultimate zombie novel of our time.

Review:

It’s not uncommon to see me review books about vampires or angels and demons. Heck, I’ll even dip my toes in werewolves and shifters now and again. What you won’t see from me are books about zombies. For the most part, unless you’re talking the original witchcraft flavored varient, zombies are creatures of horror, not fantasy. As a monster, zombies are little more than animals in a human body and as such they don’t make for compelling characters. Despite a novel existing because of zombies, zombie novels are never <i>about</i> zombies and as such, they just don’t hold much appeal for me.

But, as is my wont, occasionally I feel the need to read something a little bit different and when solicited with a pitch for this book, I decided to give it a shot. And if based on this introduction, you’d guess that I have practically no experience with zombie novels, you’d be right.

Therefore, I have to say that it’s a bit disappointing that for a genre I never read it (nor watch, for that matter) this book feels like it hits the beats I expected it to hit, by the time the focus shifts to something that feels a bit more unique, it may well be too late because you simply may not care at that point. You see, the first half of the book is spent hitting all the basic notes of the genre: guy who is not zombie is thrown out of the protected enclave he grew up because of the chance he might become a zombie. He discovers that life outside of said enclave is incredibly dangerous, not only because of the zombies, but because of the humans that choose to live out there. He has to learn both how to survive, but to keep his humanity in a world where violence, slavery and subjugation of women are the norm outside of the enclaves.

The second half of the book the story becomes less about his struggles and how he inadvertently becomes a leader of men who wants to try and create a new life for the people him, branded and unwanted by the clean population, plus the story of a cult that brings in human sacrifice because they can. It’s a bit more interesting than the first half for sure, but it still feels somehow lacking, something I have to attribute to Finn himself.

As a character, Finn is fine. He’s certainly likable enough, but that’s as much due to the fact that he’s only one of the decent humans you meet for a large stretch of the first half once the story picks up. He’s not quite a goody-two-shoe, but he certainly has this sense of nobility and honor and whatnot that, while admirable, does seem questionable given that he is of the generation born after the zombie-virus hit and he’s never known a world where such morality could have existed in. I get that he was raised in a relatively safe area, but still. He feels too much of our time, or of what we should aspire to, and not like a product of his time. He wouldn’t be as hard as some of the characters he meets, but still. I don’t know that I quite buy in to it.

At the end of the day, I don’t know that this book feels like an “ultimate” zombie novel. Is it a good zombie novel? Sure. Are the characters or the story so compelling to make them truly memorable? Eh. I suspect that actual fans of the genre might not find too much here to write home about. Those of us who don’t normally dip our toes in this sandbox may still like it however: though there is action and there is violence, this book is more of a survival story than a slasher fic so it may be a good place to start to see if you want to dig deeper.

Verdict: Borrow It

Available: April 21st

Note: The violence, while not the most graphic I’ve ever seen is still up there on occasion and there’s some disturbing implications about how women (and little girls for that matter) can be treated by some of the looters. While it isn’t enough for me to want to call this an 18+ title, I would still suggest this book is better for the 16+ crowd.

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