When the majority of the population suddenly drops dead only to rise again, those lucky – or cursed – enough to have survived desperately seek safety in the unrelenting hellscape that was once the magnificent city of London. As the survivors begin to band together, they quickly realize that safety is nearly impossible, as death awaits every corner of the wretched city, and perhaps not always from the dead themselves.
I love a good zombie story when said story dives deep into human nature and the ways in which people interact with one another when placed in inconvenient situations. In Autumn: Dawn, the protagonists of the story are placed in the most inconvenient situation (a zombie apocalypse) in the most inconvenient location (London, a city housing close to ten million people). And through it all we get to see acts of selflessness, when someone will risk their life – knowing it will be the last thing they do – in order to save someone they’ve known no more than 40 some odd days; acts of selfishness, as some seek control and will do or say anything to maintain what little they might already have; and acts of violence, hatred, and despair. The conversations with most characters are tense and filled with a sense of distrust and dislike, but it’s hard to trust people when you first meet them in the real world, let alone at the end of the world.
I love a good zombie story when there is a unique aspect added to the tale. In this case, Moody makes the reader – and his characters – question what kind of monsters these zombies actually are. At first slow and meandering alone, mindless and only reacting to noise; however, as the days go by, the survivors begin to notice a particular peculiarity amongst the dead: some sort of self-awareness that leads to grouping and moving in hordes too large to avoid. As this is only the first book in the series, I have no idea how this will take shape in later installments, but I found myself eagerly anticipating scenes with the zombies, curious and nervous as hell wondering how they might progress next – and how that might hinder the protagonists.
I love a good zombie story when the author forces the reader to think about the tough questions. Is killing the dead the right thing to do, especially if they are becoming self-aware? What is “right” and what is “wrong” when protecting yourself and others from those who seek to cause you harm?
Autumn: Dawn is an unabated, unforgiving onslaught of intensity that takes aim at both the light and dark side of humanity. Like a punch to the gut, it knocks the wind out of you on the opening page and keeps you gasping for air until the very end.
Thank you to David Moody for the ARC of Autumn: Dawn!