The Guardian Interviews is an interesting premise for a series. Framed like World War Z, they are a series of interviews with the members of the Regulators. The Regulators are a group of monster hunters who were formed in the aftermath of the El Paso zombie outbreak.
Their leader, Jaxon, is a Guardian.
Guardians are a form of anti-monster created by forces unknown as a means of combating supernatural threats. Guardians can heal rapidly when surrounded by rain or plant-life and are immune to the bites of the walking dead. If Guardians turn bad, they don't lose their powers but another one is called. It's a bit like a male version of the Slayer (though female versions can apparently exist).
The majority of the book deals with the El Paso incident. We follow Jaxon and his friends as they find themselves in the middle of the creatures' first appearance, organizing the survivors, dealing with the government's quarantine, and trying to evacuate when it's clear continued residence is suicide. We know Jaxon survives this as he earns his nickname, "The General" for his heroic leadership during this event.
Because this is a localized zombie apocalypse, limited to a single American city, there's plenty of twists on the formula. The internet still works so people outside the city are getting feedback from within the entire time. I'm not sure the government would let that happen but, again, my suspension of disbelief is high. Jaxon becomes a folk hero early on, the survivors latching onto anyone who offers them hope as the population is rapidly exterminated by the rising dead.
Much of the story is action being recounted to the journalists and I enjoyed the varying perspectives on events. We know our hero is going to get out of danger but getting the participants thoughts on events is never boring.
Oftentimes, the participants will admit to actions being stupid or wrongheaded with the benefit of hindsight. I also like the media coverage of the heroes and how glory-hounds attempted to spin events to their advantage. There's some really good stuff here.
There is, however, one glaring flaw with the book which needs to be addressed. The author doesn't seem to feel confident Jaxon's actions can speak for themselves. He feels the need to have characters continually express admiration, respect, pride, or envy of Jaxon. Sprinkled throughout the book are statements talking about how Jaxon's a fearless, kind, dependable, and all-round awesome dude. The lowest point is when a lesbian interviewee mentions he's the only man she'd have sex with.
Really? It's a joke but an eye-rolling one.
I don't mind the folk hero element of Jaxon. People have lionized people who haven't taken on a zombie-army and lived to tell the tale. The fact is, though, all of his group would have been nationally famous. Not just Jaxon. Furthermore, having the protagonist acquiesce to the fame but not bring up the sacrifices of his colleagues made me think less of him. Jaxon earns his hero title by the end of the book but I resented having everyone speak so gushingly about him. Even the reporter gets in on the action and that made me think less of her.
Despite this, the book has much going for it. It's a nice bit of brain candy with a superhuman amateur soldier out to kick ass and take names. It's kind of an 80s action movie in he new tens. I'll read the rest of the books in the series but I do hope they tone down on the Jaxon love. I get it. He's great. You don't need to throw him a parade. Let me do it when he blows up a building full of hungry undead.
This has the unintentional effect of making me enjoy the scenes with Jaxon's only detractor more than was probably intended. Calvin, one of the interviewees, is a hate-sink of cowardice and faux-pacifism. He's an attention-junkie who has made a career Post-El Paso badmouthing Jaxon. The reader is meant to hate him but I found his parts laugh out-loud hilarious.
This is the start of a good series of ass-kicking action in a world where zombie-apocalypses are localized events being dealt with by civilian contractors employed by the government. This explains how this unlikely, but interesting, event comes to pass. I liked all of the supporting cast and was deeply amused by Calvin's fate (even if I expect it would turn the public against Jaxon in real life).
In conclusion, The Guardian is not a bad book and I hope it will be the start of a successful series. With a bit of smoothing over, the author could have something great.
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