Saturday, December 13, 2014

What Zombies Fear: The Incarnation review

    The explosive climax to the What Zombies Fear series is the end of an age. In a very real way, these books had an impact on the whole of the literary zombie genre. Nowhere near that of World War Z, of course, but something that inspired quite a few other authors to take up the pen. What Zombies Fear contributed, at least in some small way, to creating a market for people who wanted to see the undead get slaughtered in text.

    The premise is a rebuttal to the majority of zombie fiction which revels hopelessness. Most zombie fiction is a disaster story, while this is an action series. Our heroes are capable of slaying vast numbers of the undead and do so with great abandon, exacting a small amount of revenge for the amount of times mankind has been slaughtered by them in fiction. Victor Tookes, the titular individual which zombies fear, has developed superpowers due to his immunity to the zombie bite. With these powers, he's fought the zombies of Earth for over a decade.

    Unfortunately, they've regrouped and are now assaulting not only his community of survivors but every single other community his followers protect. The group is divided and weak, many having lost loved ones. Can Victor rally them to take the fight against Bookbinder, the mysterious new "queen" of the E'clei?
    Of course he can.

    Despite the previous volume being the darkest in the series, Incarnation is a largely positive story about humanity vs. the dead. Everyone rallies back behind Victor and while there is a good deal of hurt feelings, the sense of heroism behind each of the characters shine through. Due to the fact Max is now an adult, he is able to lend his godlike zombie-destroying powers to aid the fight as well.

    It's no walk in the park for the heroes, though. Despite Max's many advantages, the zombies have been preparing for the counterstrike for ages. Lives will have to be sacrificed to stop the E'clei and some of them will be familiar faces. All of the heroes are ready and willing to give their lives to stop the zombie menace once and for all. People often pooh-pah good versus evil stories but some of the most enduring are those which have said premise. This is not an exception and I'm not afraid to say the ending had me a little misty eyed.

    The battles are straight out of a comic book only done in a wonderful literary style. Even better, the drama is heartfelt. When people die, each character is strongly affected and can't help but be devastated when the loss is someone closest to them. A few of them become suicidal but in a war where every life matters, the heroes have to close ranks in order to try and help.

     Is it a perfect ending? I'm not going to say so. I felt the break-up of the group to go their separate ways when millions of zombies were still at large felt contrived. Likewise, I was hoping we'd get to see more than the main group take up the sword to do battle with the E'clei. It would have been nice to see him leading a whole army of empowered mortals against the zombie hordes. Such is not to be, though.

     The ending also verges a little to the melodramatic side but, at least, spends time giving events their appropriate dramatic weight. It was always about protecting Max for Victor and his life along with the lives of his fellows was never important beyond that.

    It's the end of a series and the authors have saved the best for last.


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