Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Omega Dog (Pavlov's Dogs book 2#) review

    The Omega Dog is the sequel to Pavlov's Dogs, a story of genetically-engineered werewolves versus zombies I found to be immensely satisfying. The Omega Dog picks up literally minutes after the explosive finale of the previous volume, forcing our heroes to figure out what their next move is when the entire world has gone to hell.

    Whereas the original volume 'merely' contained werewolves and zombies--this one opens up the world to numerous other creatures that call into question what has happened to the world. The authors only hint at what's happened and that mystery will bring me to future books.

    In The Omega Dog you have werewolves, a mythological beasts, mutants, drug cartels, and all sorts of other fun stuff. It's a nice change of pace swerves from amusing to nail-biting. Our heroes have no idea how to deal with all of the problems they're being faced and are just sort of blundering along the entire way through.

    I confess, The Omega Dog surprised me with its high mortality rate. The authors pull no punches in this book and I was strongly affected by the death of several characters. Some of them were actually troubling, making me wonder if the authors enjoyed setting up characters just to cut them down. I haven't seen this sort of body count since The Walking Dead.

    The character development of the heroes continues from the previous book, each moving in different ways. Ken Bishop, originally a somewhat goofy guy with an ounce of genre-savvy, starts to act more like the 'hero' in movies even if he's not sure that's a sane thing to do. Jorge and Shanya both prove themselves to be better 'heroes' than Ken but find themselves continually turning to him because our protagonist is able to fake confidence in his decisions.

    I also became enamored of Summer Chan, watching her grow from being a minor background character in Pavlov's Dogs into a full-blown protagonist. The stand-out character of The Omega Dog, though is definitely Theta-Kaiser. I love this guy. He's a thoroughly engaging monster and the fact that he's enslaved by heroes to be used as their personal werewolf-enforcer is wonderfully twisted. Even though he's almost pure evil, he's a surprisingly sympathetic character by the end.

     After Theta-Kaiser, I think my favorite character is Anti-Villain Adolfo. When the rest of the world's governments have collapsed, the drug cartel leader stepped up to create his own private kingdom. It's an interesting moral dilemma for our heroes. Do they allow him to continue even though he's a monster or do they destroy his empire, even though it's one of the few remaining pockets of civilization left. It's the kind of question which doesn't get asked very often in zombie fiction. The resolution, I promise, will surprise you.

    The Omega Dog has the ambiance of a modern day pulp novel, putting our heroes in a variety of fantastic perils and unimaginable escapades. Despite the fact the world is crumbling down, there's a certain lighthearted adventure feel to the story. Our heroes aren't afraid of sharing jokes and looking forward with their lives, even when things are at their worst. Ironically, this makes the moments of genuine horror all the more potent.

    Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the book's romance subplots too. In books like these, too often, the female characters get overshadowed or the love-stories to be purely perfunctory. Here, they felt interesting and the way they're resolved surprised me. I salute D.L Snell and Thom Brannan for both their sharp writing here and also their use of Mexican American protagonists. Kudos. If you like zombies, apocalyptic-fiction, or urban fantasy I suggest you pick up The Omega Dog. It can be heart-warming, scary, shocking, surprising, and funny in equal measure.


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