Jeremy Bishop's 'Torment': A Review
Even though I wasn't necessarily crazy about it, you should read it and draw you're own conclusion.
When I heard the buzz about an up and coming horror writer by the name of Bishop, I decided that I wanted to see what he was all about. More importantly, I was curious to see if all the hype was justified or not. While the book is definitely interesting, I'm not necessarily convinced he's going to be the next King, Laymon or Keene. What I did find was an intriguing but awkwardly confusing story that left me asking questions long after I flipped the last page. I haven't found a story that's left me pondering for quite some time. Despite that, I haven't been able to draw a conclusion as to whether or not that's a good thing...
When Mia Durante's fiance is accused of being a traitor to the USA, she had no idea that it would lead to the end of the world. Calling foul on the bogus charge, she decides to take the investigation into her own hands. With a small amount of luck, and a ton of trickery, she is invited to have an audience with the president himself. Just as he seems about to reveal the truth about the fate of her fiance, they both learn of an impending missile strike aimed at the USA. Ordering an emergency evacuation, Mia, the President and a few others are shuttled into Earth's orbit. In retaliation, the President has also launched his own attack and Mia can only watch as the planet is enveloped with flames and clouds of toxic aftermath.
Time is lost for all aboard the small escape pod. Some survivors are slowly losing their minds while others stare into space in utter disbelief. Mia is unwillingly picked as leader of the pack. As she sits to decide what the next move should be, the ship's computer alerts the crew that Earth is once again inhabitable. Afraid of what they'll find, the group of survivors descend only to find a fate worse than death. Everyone on the planet has turned into savages. They almost seem normal, except for the fact that they attack any and all who aren't like them. Screaming warnings and apologies as they rip into their victims. What's really disturbing about this group of 'zombies' is that no matter how you kill them, they never stay down. They constantly regenerate, dooming them to spend eternity brutally slaughtering each other. Can Mia and her team escape this menace? Can they figure out how to end the plague? Or perhaps are they in their own kind of Hell?
Bishop has done well to add a new sinister twist on the traditional zombie story, but I was left with more questions than answers. For example, we can all assume that the nuclear missiles are responsible for transforming innocent citizens into regretful bloodthirsty beasts, but the question becomes why? Did the radiation cause the mutation? Were the missiles filled with a biochemical weapon? Then there's the question of children and animals. All the vicious attackers are teens and adults, so where did all the young children go? Did they escape to a stronghold or safe haven somewhere? If not, where are the bodies? The story has more than it's fair share of blood and gore, and as the members of Mia's team continue to dwindle, only two members are not reanimated. What is so special about these particular characters? Some say that the story has a religious undertone. And that only those who have truly embraced Jesus were saved by death. I'm not convinced of this theory either. I can't believe that so many people were not practicing some sort of religion. Maybe I'm thinking too much, or perhaps I missed something, but all I see is one giant hole in the plot. I will give Bishop credit for giving strong emotional depth to his characters. I could feel the desperation, sadness and fear right along side Mia, I even felt myself cheering for some of them. The idea of the story actually stayed with me for quite some time after finishing it. What would we do against an enemy that seemingly couldn't be killed? All and all I don't think the story was thought out well enough. So I'm only awarding the book two stars. One for a creative twist to a traditional monster, and another for character depth.