Tuesday, June 11, 2013

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: New zombie "soap operas" offer something for everyone

Digital publishing is a fluid art form these days.

One of the new things hitting it, though, is serialized stories.

Think of it as soap operas – but in the written form.

Essentially, authors are distilling their stories down into segments. The installments – at least the ones I’ve read so far – take less than an hour to read in their entirety.

I decided to check out two serials this week – and I opted for the zombie genre in both. I figured if I was going to compare them, I might as well make them as similar as possible.

The first one I read was ‘Deadlocked’ by A.R. Wise. The first installment was published in December 2011.

Wise opted to tell each of his vignettes from the point of view of one character – which lets the reader jump from individual to individual.

Wise’s approach is a fun one, and even though he doesn’t bring anything new to the zombie genre he does take readers on a fun ride. I think he meant for the ending of the first book to be shocking – but I wasn’t invested in the characters enough yet to actually feel the shock I probably should have. That's probably one of the drawbacks of this format.

Still, it was an enjoyable romp – even if I don’t think I’m going to continue on the trek for the rest of the series.
The other serial I started to read was ‘Dead Highways’ by Richard Brown. The first in this series was
published in February 2013.

While I couldn’t engage with the characters in ‘Deadlocked,’ I didn’t have that problem at all with ‘Dead Highways.’

Brown tells his story from one point of view – a funny point of view at that -- and given the short nature of these books, I think that’s a bonus.

Brown is a master at making his characters feel like everyday people caught in extraordinary circumstances. They’re not special. They’re not weird. They just are.

Brown also doesn’t try to force too much action too early. Instead, he wants you to get to know his characters before he throws them into an untenable situation (or kills them off).

‘Dead Highways’ does end on a dramatic beat – but it’s not the blood bath that you see in ‘Deadlocked.’ It's a quieter character study -- and I guess that's what draws me to it.

I was so taken with Brown’s story that I will be continuing with his narrative arc. While I think 'Deadlocked' will appeal to a lot of fans of the genre, it didn't really appeal to me.

Both were well written and had very few typos -- and when you're dealing with indies that's a bonus.

‘Deadlocked’ is currently available for free on Amazon.

'Dead Highways' is currently available for free on Amazon.


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