Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Keep A Barf Bag Nearby

Evolution of the Dead
by R.M. Smith
484 pages
$.99 Kindle version
I love the initial concept of this novel: something locked away in our DNA is set free by a couple of scientists who think the anomaly is what should have been our natural evolution. The initial outbreak occurs in Orlando, Florida, just in time for the July 4th weekend, and the infection is spread by a mere touch. In other words, everyone is totally screwed.

Carmen has the ability to sense something bad about to happen, and when she gets one of her feelings, she can only watch as the domino effect takes the life of her boyfriend. Scott and Kim are the only two to escape a parking garage that has become a death trap for everyone else. Janet jumps in Nick's car, and the two barely break away from a hellish traffic jam. Eventually, the survivors converge on the same truck rental location for sanctuary, but the infection has already beaten them there.

The details of the infection are so graphic, I was gagging through most of the story. As soon as I saw the word "worms," it was all over for me. Especially when the virus evolves to become more potent. The likelihood of becoming one of the dead is so high, I had little to no hope for the characters, especially when Carmen because severely injured, and the group turns on one another. If you read this novel, abandon all hope.

R.M. Smith gets points for setting up such a bleak and grotesque outbreak scenario, but he loses points for the lack of depth in his characters. Without proper character development, the story is a little flat, even with all the action. I would have liked to see Smith do more with Carmen's sixth sense and I think her hobbling around with broken bones isn't realistic (I had a broken foot and there is no bloody way I could jump, climb, etc. the way Carmen does). Nick is a mystery; he talks about his pregnant girlfriend, while being a complete pig to the female survivors, not to mention the other horrible things that he does throughout the story...I would have liked to know why his personality is so dualistic. Janet didn't have much personality at all, and Scott and Kim are, well, Scott and Kim.

Considering how long the novel is, I think Smith had plenty of space to do more with his main characters. He also could have skipped the side stories with the supporting characters, and just focused on the core group.

All things considered, I was entertained, and that's all I really ask for with my undead. Beware if you have a weak stomach, but enjoy otherwise.

As always,

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