Reviewed by: J.A. Gill
Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words
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Sean Solomon lives in Wakefield, UK. Outbreak is his debut novel. A prodigious writer, this was shortly followed by Inbreed in August of the same year. Soon to follow is a trilogy collectively titled The Cursed. For updates and further information visit Sean Solomon’s website.
Set in the near-future English countryside, Sean Solomon’s Outbreak tells the story of a few unlikely survivors of an apocalyptic virus. They soon come to realize dark forces following the wake of the pandemic and must combine resources to stay alive and uncover an unsettling truth.
This novel is about as close as one can get to a story about nazi zombies without actually being about Nazi Germany or having any typical zombies. Sadly, any levity implied with the promise of nazi zombies shambling around England is quickly squandered by cheap gravitas as the narrator in his storytelling unfailing marks off the usual suspects of the Final Solution: pogroms, concentration camps, clouds of human ash, a military-industrial cabal with plans of world domination, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, etc. This is the Reductio ad Hitlerum of narration, where everyone knows nothing is worse than Hitler and his Nazis, thereby linear comparisons appear dubious and unearned.
As to the zombies, they are not reanimated dead but remotely animated living. The hows and whys—save for the predictable role of technology cast as the new necromancy—unfold thrillingly. Credit this to Solomon’s juggling multiple subplots that at first appear as homage to the patchwork of Max Brooks’s World War Z, but converge somewhat seamlessly in the final chapters. One exception, however, involving a spoiler, challenges the weight limit on the suspension bridge over the river disbelief, an element of subgenre crossing that intercalates in a shoot ‘em up zombie apocalypse novel incompletely.
Details can illuminate or obfuscate. The writing is often in the clipped military jargon of acronyms and perfuse with the fastidious make-and-model listing of ordnance. On the other hand, it is wanting on the ethology of the many nearly interesting characters inhabiting the story.
No chronic errors or issues.
Rating: ** Two stars