DEAD HUNGER IV: EVOLUTION
By: Eric A. Shelman
Novel Review by Rick Amortis
Dolphin Moon Publishing
447 Pages

Just when you thought it was safe for our band of heroes, Flex, Gem, Hemp, Charlie, Dave, Lisa and Serena to develop a sense of community, family and a new beginning, a most diabolical threat has surfaced. One half of the infected population, the female demographic, has seemingly developed an immunity to many of the safety provisions previously protecting the living. Perhaps most terrifying is their ability to hunt the living, despite everything our heroes had worked so hard to overcome. Will they have the ability to thwart the insatiable hunger that has evolved, or will their untimely doom be a prophecy unto The Dead Hunger?

This is the fourth volume of author Eric A. Shelman’s hit series The Dead Hunger. It’s only fitting that we’re treated to a first person prologue from one Flex Sheridan. As you may recall, Flex’s feelings, thoughts and perceptions were penned in the original Dead Hunger to give segue unto his fiery wife-to-be Gem Cardoza in part two, and finally the brilliant scientist Hemphill Chatsworth in part three. I particularly like how Shelman employs Sheridan to give a full recap of the events leading up to this moment. It gets readers up to speed without leaving newcomers in the dark. You don’t necessarily have to read the series in chronological fashion, but of course it is always recommended. We get the ‘cliff notes’ version of the epic tale before the present tense takes over. This time around, Dead Hunger is told in third person perspective. In page volume, it’s the most ambitious tale to date. It’s admirable to see Shelman create as compelling a tale in third person as he was able to do in first person in his earlier books. We’re treated to this immensely gifted author’s sense of diversity, and it reinforces the readers’ desire to come back for more and more.

Many authors fall into the potential pitfalls of third person perspective storytelling, relying upon unnecessary or glib exposition. The tale becomes long winded or drab as a result. Shelman’s sense of subtlety in telling the story through dialogue, body language and human behavior exposes the characters’ emotions, actions and reactions. We’re drawn to them on an intimate level, which is no easy feat for a third person persona. The author achieves this in spades and the evidence is in his ever increasing brood of fans.

The characters within this series have become so familiar, relaxed and at ease in their interactions; it’s no wonder why the audience continues to come back for more. Our beloved genre of choice, horror, is often ridiculed as being low brow entertainment by miscreants and deviants of society. The sequel trap has only intensified this prejudice in non-believers. Many will argue the multiple numbered sequel dramatically removes from the integrity or merit of the plot. Shelman defies the odds once again, creating each individual book in more spell binding fashion than its predecessor. Each book stands on its own and can just as easily be enjoyed in sequence. As we get to know the contrast in each character, whether its Flex’s tough guy exterior and sappy sentimental nature or Gem’s sarcastic no nonsense beauty, Hemp’s articulation, intelligence or passion for wanting to restore society, Charlie’s whimsical take no prisoners attitude or Dave’s absurd ‘it’s an awkward moment’ quips, they’re all elements that have become endearing to the readership. They’re qualities we find in our friends and wish only the best in their respective futures.

The bulk of the tale contains a delicate balance of science, action, horror, humor and heart wrenching drama. A little something can be found for everyone in this author’s works, forever cementing his work in popularity to a universal audience.

A humanistic approach is delivered from paragraph one with the town residents of Concord adapting to a world gone mad but getting on with life in the best way they know how. Several of the women’s pregnancies enhance an overall impressionistic theme of hope in repopulating and restoring civilization once again.

But if you’ve been lead to believe this is a touchy and feely edition, swayed too far from its predecessor; then rest assured this could not be further from the truth. The terror, guts and gore are never disappointing. One should be advised to choose their reading time wisely, not always necessarily directly before retiring for the evening. That is, unless, of course you’re a fan of vivid, disturbing nightmares. Perhaps sleeping with the light on isn’t such a bad idea after all.

By Rick Amortis

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