Twilight of The Dead
By Travis Adkins
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook
“The end of the world is a process, not an event…”
Raised on Romero’s gruesome ‘end world’ scenarios and Skipp and Spector’s Books of the Dead, I’m a zombie fan from way back. It’s safe to say as a reader and film watcher that I’ve fallen for the big old rotting hunks. So you can imagine how happy I am in this current high point for my favorite horror monster. If Twilight of The Dead is any indication, then Travis Adkins is a hard-core zombie-phile as well.
Set in the Romero world of the living dead (erm … I mean infected … don’t call them zombies!), Adkins presents the story of Courtney Colvin, a young woman who’s managed to survive five years in this strange new world of the walking dead. Not only survived, but she’s become a kick ass soldier/scavenger for the walled community of Eastpointe where a small collection of humans are hanging onto their existences. Courtney, along with a handful of others inside Eastpointe, has been trained by an elite ‘last days’ special ops group to be able to battle the flesh eaters without reliance on guns to disarm and kill.
Just as she is beginning to make new friends a survivor straggles in from the outside to bring them news of a cure for the plague. The community’s leaders decide this is too good to pass up and send Courtney and her comrades on a mission to retrieve the formula. But all is not as it seems, as you can imagine, and soon she is fighting for her life yet again in the wastelands of the walking dead.
Twilight of The Dead is the first of a purposed trilogy and ends on a cliffhanger. The reader is left biting his/her nails until the next book.
Damn you, Adkins! HA!
Adkins writes a believable character in Courtney. An emotional mess, and unhappy with her existential hell, she doesn’t know how to connect with the living any longer, and would rather be alone than chance losing more people. Adkins provides a clever romance subplot with the caustic Leon Wolfe, a member of the fighting unit, and keeps the banter light and funny, like a Howard Hawks film.
Hell, this was such a great read I can’t wait to see what Adkins does next.
But there are a few things to watch for. The major editing issue I had as a reader was the sometimes-distracting overuse of the word ‘then’ during expositional passages. It became so prevalent at certain points that I found myself skipping the word.
Even though there were opportunities to tighten up the prose a bit to make for a cleaner read, overall the writing is good and the pace is bullet fast. I’ve got to hand it to Adkins: He knows how to edit for pace. There was hardly a wasted page. In fact, I found the interstitial ‘found’ documents helped to solidify the story, while adding a certain whimsical air to the experience. In a stroke of editing genius, they also helped to create a flow of back-story that might have otherwise taken way more pages to give the reader. I especially loved the censored N.A.S.A. report on the returning Venus probe, one for the zombie-philes among us.
Bravo, Mr. Adkins.
The special limited edition also includes three short stories set in the world of the dead that detail events in the lives of the survivors, presenting even more back story for the reader to gnaw upon.
If you love zombies, this is a must read.