Posted on December 10, 2010 by Eric Pollarine
Available at Amazon.com
“Survival horror” is everywhere, if you don’t believe me then just go to the horror section and take a look around. I guarantee you’ll see at least, if the bookstore happens to be Borders, 25-30 titles from small and large publishing companies alike that have something to do with survival horror.
And the majority of these titles will invariably have the words, dead; plague, zone, strain, Armageddon and/or zombie on the front cover or even interjected into the title of the book in some way, shape or form. Now for someone who really loves this sort of stuff, as I do, a fact which I make plainly and painfully clear every chance that is given to me, then this is something of a golden age for the “survival horror” fan. However, if you’re as tired of this trend as you were the “Vampire” and what I think will eventually happen, very soon, to the “Werewolf,” then, well-sorry, but given the recent success of “The Walking Dead” television show and the current hysteria over everything and anything to do with Zombies, it doesn’t look like it’s going away very soon.
But fear not, I’m here to help you along on this journey by trying, in my own way, to steer you down the path to some of the best that “survival horror” has to offer; Case in point, David Moody’s Autumn, which was just “officially” published through Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Griffin press. (The book was originally published by the author, on the internet, for free.)
Now there’s been, as of late, a lot and I do mean A LOT of press recently about David Moody’s “Hater,” series being picked up by director and now author Guillermo Del Toro for development and then subsequently in the following last few weeks about how, possibly, actor Paul Giamatti (though this is as of yet complete hype/speculation, however Giamatti has been cast in the movie version of Dark Horse Entertainments, “The Goon” movie) is possibly interested in the role, though this is due to his apparent involvement, Giamatti mind you, with the adaptation of author David Wong’s “John Dies at The End,” which is in pre-production as we speak. Though again the majority of this is all rumor intelligence-don’t believe the hype just yet.
But much to my dismay, maybe not yours, that there hasn’t been enough fan fair heaped upon the Autumn series. So, you’re probably thinking get on with it, right?
Fine, here we go.
Autumn is based on the premise, “What if 99 percent of the population, as we know it, was to suddenly drop dead? Then what would further happen if those dead people started to get up and walk around? And then, even further, what if those people started to regain their motor skills, aggression and speed with one, seemingly, horrendous intent- to kill the survivors?”
Well, of course, if handled correctly you would be left with one tall tale of survival horror, one which would examine the harsh reality of what it would really take to continue on in a world that is completely and totally out to get you. And that’s exactly what you have in David Moody’s “Autumn” series.
Set somewhere in both the post industrial, British urban sprawl and in the brutally picturesque but isolated country side, “Autumn” is essentially the story of survivors coming to terms with who they are, what they survive for, the oppositions that they face and their unraveling humanity.
It is a classic tale of the survival horror genre and one that does the genre, or in this case the sub-genre, complete and utter justice. Its paced well, plotted well, written well and well-it executes every single aspect of what a survival horror story should be with near cruise missile precision.
To theme, or not to theme?
The standard themes of love, loss, acceptance and inevitability are all here along with the disruption of normalcy. Though if there is one draw back to the story it’s that the small group of survivors seem as if they might actually be a bit over emotional. Some of this is obviously to display the complete lack of hope but it does get to be a bit much after a while. I found myself wanting to read faster just because I wanted the characters to push past the raw nerve and get on with the task at hand.
The zombies were handled well, they begin as simple shambling husks, emotionless and unintelligent slabs of flesh that bump into things and present no apparent danger but as the book begins to progress, they turn into mindless killing machines. Realistically they represent the normal interpretations of what the zombie has become but also Mr. Moody seems to infect the story with more. You come away with an extreme sense that the survivors are really more afraid of themselves and more afraid of the world, not the zombies. Mr. Moody also uses open spaces juxtaposed with quiet and claustrophobic settings well. If you’re a fan of gory details and splatter fests then you might want to look elsewhere. Though there is an element of gore, “Autumn” is certainly a book that offers you more chills than thrills, more substance than yuck factor.
But for the most part, at least close to 99% the book hits all the right marks in the genre.
The final countdown.
So the verdict on “Autumn” is that it’s a great book, nay- one of the best I have read all year and the beginning of what I can hope, will be a great series. It’s available at all the major retailers and I can’t recommend it enough for being one of the best jumping on points for the genre of “survival horror.” The price is right as well, for just fewer than 15 bucks you can pick it up, and you should. But make sure to clear out the rest of your evening, because once you start you’ll have a hard time stopping.
Review by Eric Pollarine