“Dead City” by Joe Mckinney (Review)

deadCityBookReviewBram Stoker Award winner, Joe McKinney, has received mixed reviews for this one. While most reviews are good, many say things like, “A decent action novel, but nothing more,” and others suggest it has a “video game feel.” I think the negative comments aimed at the novel come, in large part, from inappropriate expectations. When I read this book, I didn’t get the same feeling as I did when I read, say, The Sun Also Rises; but it would be unreasonable for me to expect the same feeling when the author’s aim is different. There is literature meant to enrich you and imbibe you with a sense of being connected. And there is literature meant to entertain. Some fiction can do both; but take a look at the cover. This cover was designed to manage expectations.

Dead City is a very entertaining work of Pulp Horror. That’s all it needs to be. If you need more, you have to read something else. You wouldn’t read a traditional Romance novel and then in a review say, “It was OK, but I prefer a story with a slow-building sense of impending doom.” You wouldn’t read a Nicholas Sparks novel and then say, “There wasn’t a single shootout!”

This isn’t to say the book is beyond criticism. But I think a lot of recent reviewers watched The Walking Dead, and then they went and bought this book expecting it to be a lot like that. The show (I haven’t read the graphic novels yet) does a great job of developing characters and world-building. But it doesn’t take place over the course of a single night, as Dead City does. It isn’t told from the P.O.V of a single character. It’s a different story told a different way.

Dead City is the first in a series of Zombie novels written by San Antonio based police Sargent, Joe McKinney. A series of hurricanes off the Gulf coast has caused the spread of a zombie infection.  Officer Eddie Hudson is out on patrol when the outbreak occurs, and he has to fight his way home to rescue his family. He meets numerous survivors along the way, and he pops his share of zombie domes before the end.

This is a fast-paced Horror novel, reminiscent of the Pulp style of action-based Horror prevalent in the eighties (and the first half of the 20th century and up to this day, really). As a police officer himself, McKinney brings a great deal of verisimilitude to the story. I read this book in a couple of sittings and greatly enjoyed it. I plan to read the rest of the series. I was in the mood for it. If you’re in the mood for an entertaining, action-filled read, check it out. The third book in the series, Flesh Eaters, won the Bram Stoker Award for best novel in 2012.

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