Robert J. Duperre
Create Space Publishing
Trade Paperback, 337 pages, $15.99
Review by Brian M. Sammons
I must admit, upon looking at this book, I was put off by it. The first and foremost reason for that is because it is self-published. Now I don’t want to seem like a literary snob, I really don’t, but I get quite a few self-published books sent to me for review, and with very few exceptions, they are universally bad. So bad that I usually don’t finish them, and I pride myself on being able to finish almost any book.
The second thing that raised alarms and red flags inside my mind that this book would soon be joining other castoffs in the “I can’t take any more of this” pile was that upon starting it, it became apparent it was going to be yet another zombie novel. Let me be clear: I love zombie books, novels, videogames, and whatever, as long as they have something new to say. And no, that doesn’t mean just taking a “classic” novel and adding zombies. Yes, I’m looking at you, latest mash-up of now public domain literature and the shambling dead. So, The Fall by Mr. Duperre started things off on the wrong foot with me. The only way I could have had a more immediate dislike for this title was if it had insulted my momma. But I was sent this book so I was going to give it the old college try to get through it.
Now here’s a little bit about me; I hate reading bad books, and by extension I hate writing bad reviews. I know, this is the internet, and the vast majority of people calling themselves critics on the ‘net only seem to exist to piss all over things because being hateful and snarky is funny and people like funny. While I get that, and to some extent it’s true, I simply have too many books to read to waste time on bad books. Further, I’ll never review a book that I don’t finish.
You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?
Yes, if you have successfully deduced that this will turn out to be a positive book review despite all the red herrings I sprinkled about above pointing to the contrary then call yourself Sherlock and me color surprised. As a testament to the old saw about judging books by their covers, The Fall works wonderfully as I quickly found myself enjoying this book despite my initial misgivings. So why all the preamble? To illustrate a point that this novel could be easy to dismiss, hell I did it, but if you do so then you might miss out on one hell of a high octant thrill ride. While that might be a bit a hyperbole, it is surprising accurate. Robert J. Duperre writes in a swift, somewhat brisk style. No nonsense readers who like to get to the meat of a story will love this. Those who like a bit more flourish with their prose might find it a bit simple. Me, I can go back and forth depending upon my mood and the skill of the author. In this instance I found it most fitting.
As for the story, it plays with some familiar zombie tropes, but does add enough of the new to tell the tale in its own, unique voice. This time the end of the world comes about when a researcher opens up a long lost and sealed Mayan tomb and unleashes a strange virus that turns people into homicidal maniacs. As if shades of 28 Days Later weren’t bad enough, there’s a bit of the world George Romero made tossed in for good measure as the dead also begin to rise up and join in on the murderous mayhem. While the threat is global, the majority of this tale is set in the small New Hampshire town of Dover. This allows the protagonists to view the approaching horror from a distance, but a distance that gets shorter by the day as the epidemic spreads. The characters seem flawed and believable and I enjoyed reading about their trials and tribulations. A few didn’t quite connect with me and seemed a bit cardboard-ish, but they were in the very small minority.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the plot, other than to say small town, crazies, zombies, people trying to survive, and a deepening mystery. How deep, you may ask? Well this is only volume one in a proposed four book series. The story here can stand well enough on its own, which is something a lot of books in an ongoing series can’t pull off, but it does leave plenty of threads untied for future installments. Do I look forward to such future endeavors? Yes I do, and really, that’s that best thing you can say about the first book in any quadrilogy.
Consider this one a surprising recommendation.