Brian Keene's 'City Of The Dead': A Review
City Of The Dead
*spoilers* This review gives away the ending of 'The Rising'. Check out that review first : )
Keene's knack for fast paced, page turning, in your face, no remorse story telling continues to shine in the bleak 'City Of The Dead'. Picking up where 'The Rising' left off, you're dropped straight into the action that doesn't let up until your eyes scroll across the last word of the last page.
The story opens up with Frankie and Martin nervously waiting for Jim to emerge from the house holding his son as a prisoner. Hearing the shuffling falls of decaying feet of undead abominations creeping closer, the two rush inside to hurry the search along. The house remains silent as Jim searches through it cautiously. Miraculously, Danny is alive and has survived by hiding in the attic. Zombies surround the house in a pincer attack, setting the building ablaze attempting to smoke the humans out. Against all odds, an escape is presented though a next door neighbor who secluded himself in a steel enforced panic room. Don, the newest member of the team agrees to take the group out of town and into 'safer' territory. Their hopes are savagely crushed as several zombies decide to chase after them in a vehicle of their own. As the pursuit grows hotter, the two cars collide and it looks like game over for Jim and his crew.
Ramsey Tower stands tall and proud in the middle of Manhattan. A thirty story reinforced so-called impenetrable sky scrapper houses a small community of survivors doing their best to make a life for themselves, despite the undead ravaging the remnants of the lives they once knew. The fortress, equipped with a hospital, school, commons, strong supply of food and water and enough weaponry to make a small country proud not only acts as an anti zombie super force but runs regular aerial search and rescue missions. Luckily, they happen to spot our team of warriors in their hour of need. Jim and the others are welcomed with warm, living, open arms into their new home. Taking a few days to rest and get medical attention, they decide that as the air grows cold and putrid, the enemy draws near. Should they plan an escape? Or trust Ramsey and his claims of a safe and uninterrupted life within the tower walls? Frankie's evil premonitions help decide their fate as they conclude to make their way underground. Predictably, security is breached and the last of humanity if slaughtered mercilessly. Did they make the right decision? Fleeing blindly into the city sewers while being tailed unknowingly means that our heroes are in for the fight of their lives.
While the story could stand nicely on its own, it could be a little confusing without having read 'The Rising' first.There is no step retracing, memory recollections or character introductions. I can't hold that against Keene, but it will put off potential readers and new fans who pick up this novel first. While the first novel uncovers how humans will take the opportunity to oppress each other under the most sinister of situations. This story adversely shows the survival nature of the human spirit. 'City Of The Dead' delves more into the plan of the Zombie and the motive of their leader. I love how Keene ends the story in an aggressively pessimistic way. I could easily predict how the tale would unfold, but I still held a small glimmer of hope for all of humanity. His dark and unforgiving style of writing is similar to my own and I think I found a new writer that I can look up to. The story is a true and true page turner. Drenched in blood and reeking of rotting death, the novel sucked me in and trapped me in its jaws. I finished the story in a mere three days. Terrifically, gory and vulgar, this is not a story for the squeamish or those with high religious convictions. Though terribly predictable, the endearing characters and intense adrenaline pumping story telling more than make up for that. As devastating a destroyed as Keene's world may be, I'll happily revisit anytime. Five stars, no questions asked!
While this story is great on it's own. Check out 'The Rising' first. You can find a very reasonably priced paperback version here.