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And the award goes to Gallery Books for Most Deceptive Cover Ever, with a second award for the Most Misleading Book Blurb in the Zombie Genre.My blurb Seven interconnected stories follow a doctor, her son and a trucker as the zombie apocalypse goes down The son is a cold blooded Messiah figure while the trucker provides him with emotional guidance Humanity remains largely cruel and selfish, although some people will martyr themselves for the good of the herd Let the rebuilding commence The first section starts off very well, leaving me deeply engrossed in the story Near ground zero, a pathologist, Lucy, discovers that there s something odd about the people overflowing the waiting room They seem to be seizing, febrile, violent, or gnawing at their own fingers and lips Uncomfortable with the drama, Lucy and a pediatrician friend concentrate on a woman with a sick baby Lucy starts problem solving the illness until her pediatrician friend pulls her away from her myopic focus on pathophysiology, and raises the larger issue of their safety They escape with the woman and her baby as heavily ard officers storm the E.R Shortly after, Lucy hitches a ride with Knock Out, a trucker, as she attempts to avoid the containment zone Surviving the nuclear fallout and finding Lucy s son Gus quickly becomes their focus.By giving the reader a close up of the drama unfolding at the hospital, we get a feel for the human tension of early disaster and the obligations of a healer One of the interesting components of zombie stories is the reaction at the outbreak What will happen Will it be recognized Ultimately, it all depends on how fast the disease travels and the incubation period, and so far no one has done it better than World War Z An Oral History of the Zombie War Well, Brooks and the people writing the reports on bird flu Jacobs gives us an inside perspective with a doctor and a possible initial official response, and it s the kind of insight that can really lend an interesting twist to a traditional zombie survivalist story Jacobs writes well, with non stop action and skilled structure and imagery One of the initial views of the zombies Again, milky eyes glared at her Lucy couldn t pin it down exactly, but there didn t seem to be any awareness in those eyes It was as if some deep sea creature felt eddies and currents spun off a passing fish and moved to attack, working on pure instinct Meeting Knock Out, the trucker The trucker who picked her up was a brawny, thick man, bristly and unkempt The cab smelled of cigarettes, energy drink, and corn chips But the fecund normalcy of the man almost made Lucy want to cry Unfortunately, the book fails to shine for two significant reasons and one small one The first is the structure of the collection itself Sections centered on seven different characters are all too loosely connected to result in a satisfying story gestalt As bit character pieces, they range from decent to outstanding, but as a plot, its an unsatisfying way to build tension and consistency.The second major reason the book falls apart is the point of view switching If the plot isn t enough to pull it together, characterization can t save it either, especially when Tessa only gives us a minor, outsider version of the trio of Lucy, Knock Out and Gus, and the engineer Broadsword isn t involved with them at all We barely get to know either of them besides the immediate context of the apocalypse and their relationship to the main characters, so it doesn t carry the emotional weight it could have The sections vary considerably in length, but are shorter toward the end of the book Lucy s is 48, Knock Outs 73, Tessa s 47, Gus 79, Barbara 24, the engineer 35, and the final section 22 It destroys the pacing to be dropped into another person s head so irregularly Making it challenging is the minutes entry style of Barbara s section, incongruous with the rest of the narratives.The final, ironic quibble when you write well, the expectations are higher and missteps obvious Rhiannon Frater s The First Days is somewhat similar to the section on Lucy s experience intricate detail in recognizing and surviving the beginning of an epidemic However, Frater s writing is written at a simpler level, so the enjoyment comes out of the fast moving plot and willingness ignore language problems Jacob, on the other hand, is clearly a talented writer, so oddities are stick out The pediatrician s initial Why are we here In this town line smacked of entry level writer s introduction Then there are the patients in the waiting room for the life of me, I can t figure out how someone can swallow her own lips As a medical person, I ve heard of swallowing a tongue, but as Jacobs clearly loved the lip imagery, it remained distracting I won t bore you with the rest of the hmm moments, but they were there.Finally, I get it It s the apocalypse A story doesn t need to have rape in order for us to understand inhumanity Authors as tempting as the cliche is, try to reach a little higher.Good writing, standard zombie survival story, messy narrative Recommended for readers who want to cover the genre, or are able to treat it as short stories in a connected setting.One star and another star and one other star and a little bit extra of a star equals three and a quarter stars.Cross posted at Ever wonder what it might be like to restart civilization after zombies Well read this book It takes you through the start of the zombie rise to starting life over Very neat story line A little off track in the middle but it gets back on track, still a good book. Liked it overall, but I did have my problems with it The Good 1 The zombies aka zeds, shamblers, revs short for revenants there is nothing unique about Jacobs zombies they are slow, and gooshy, and stink They are dangerous in hordes and are attracted to sound All this we ve seen before nevertheless, the descriptions are remarkably vivid skulls shattering, teeth splintering, intestines bursting, and always the terrible, gag inducing smell of rot.2 The first 121 pages are a complete adrenaline rush Action begins on page 1 and does not relent for a moment We meet Dr Lucy Ingersoll on the afternoon her hospital succumbs to chaos An inexplicable virus is causing people to seizure, auto cannibalize, attack, die and re animate Lucy is our entry point into the start of the end of the world She assesses her situation and realizes she must abandon the hospital if she is to rescue her son, Gus, at home with his father In her attempt to get to her family, Lucy crosses paths with Knock Out, a giant of a man with a gentle and kind way about him These 121 pages are strong enough to stand on their own as a rip roaring novella of zombie insanity, replete with nuclear detonations.The Bad The shifting character POV did not work for me The first 121 pages grabbed me by my short hairs I loved the brutal immediacy of the story Everything feels so urgent and perilous I loved Lucy and Knock Out Then the book shifts gears and we are getting Tessa s story Okay, I ll keep following you Tessa s story is sad and icky But intense I found her very sympathetic Just as I was getting emotionally invested, the story shifts again Now it s three years later and Lucy s 14 year old son Gus takes over narrating Then the POV shifts again and we have some chick Barbara sharing the minutes from the various committee meetings of the Bridge City survivors enclave And there will be one POV change before the novel concludes So many shifts in narration, from first to third person, lost me by the end of the book It was hard to sustain emotional involvement with any of the major characters The book ends up reading like a collection of interconnected short stories, and on their own, each of the chapters are actually quite strong It s when you force them to act as a novel where things fall apart That s when huge problems with pacing and characterization appear, along with a natural momentum towards a meaningful and satisfactory climax of which there isn t one Despite these issues, there s something about this book that recommends itself It s got that gritty, western kind of vibe going, a little Mad Max, a little The Road and of course Kirkman s The Walking Dead it s just not possible to read about the slavers and Captain Konstantin and not be reminded of the Governor If you re craving zombies, and a bleak and desperate post apocalyptic landscape, you could do a lot worse than This Dark Earth. Let me lay all the cards on the table and let me tell it to you in a straight and simple way of what we have here before us.In this story John Hornor Jacobs has put before us a case ofthe good, the bad and the ugly The Good a mum, son and a father courageous, survivors and fighters.The Bad the Slavers enslave women and men, selfish and want to control the living.The Ugly the Shamblers the undead, cannibals and ugly.The scene is set the desolate earth the dark earth of ruin and destruction The options are quite simply, the fates set before the characters in this story areTo lead,Follow,Be enslaved,Eaten,Or be of the undead.One thing or sure is only the ones that are wise or strong and have perseverance will survive.The story opens with a scene of macabre and anarchy in an hospital clinic overrun by people eating themselves We learn of one brave and likeable woman here Dr Lucy and we walk with her for quite some time as she witness the world go to shit and fall.The authors successfully leaves you hanging on at the end very sentence hooked and engrossed with anticipation on what will happen next right from the first page till the end.His writing style is smart and really nailed the right words short and sweet sentences and immerses you right in the thick of the story.New York Chicago Los Angeles Atlanta Miami Mexico Canada Europe and.They all fell victim to a virus that caused seizures and.cannibalism.Then there was an explosion and large mushroom clouds.The has to be some people to rise and converge and preserve some humanity, goodness, community and a possible light in this dark earth that has arisen A new King, Queen and Prince shall rise from the forsaken desolate bloodstained earth.To protect and serve those in need a monarchy of daring courageous and spunky individuals shall I do hope be preserved and survive the darkest days set before them in this story They passed a pileup in the left lane Mangled cars People on the ground, some bleeding Some contorting Some spasming Some were already upright Revivified and shambling Zombies The cloud we walk underneath is the same It s hideous and by turns The mushroom rises behind us in the east Before us, the setting sun smears the sky with color The interstate is a long thread through burning pine woods We re higher up than the rest of the land, a little A delta Without the world being set afire, it d be muggy and we d be swarmed with Mosquitos Chalk up one point in favor of nuclear annihilation No skeeters The world loves the tomato because it is red The apple is red too But the tomatoes flesh is the flesh of mankind.Do the dead love the flesh of man because it is like a tomato We will never know But I have my suspicions There are times and things you can never forget.Your first kiss from someone you love.The first time you have sex.Your first broken heart.An there s the first time you ride a steam locomotive through a horde of zombies.I d rank it up there with first kiss Maybe even sex Visit the authors website This Dark Earth publishers SimonandSchuster Interactive map of Bridge City Read An Excerpt Check out the novel NOMINATED FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD FOR SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FIRST NOVEL SOUTHERN GODS BY John Hornor Jacobs Review with a book trailer also available [ FREE PDF ] ♴ This Dark Earth ♿ In A Bleak, Zombie Ridden Future, A Small Settlement Fights For Survival And Looks To A Teenager To Lead Them The Land Is Contaminated, Electronics Are Defunct, The Ravenous Undead Remain, And Life Has Fallen Into A Nasty And Brutish State Of Nature Welcome To Bridge City, In What Was Once Arkansas Part Medieval Fortress, Part Western Outpost, And The Precarious Last Stand For Civilization A Ten Year Old Prodigy When The World Ended, Gus Is Now A Battle Hardened Young Man He Designed Bridge City To Protect The Living Few From The Shamblers Eternally At The Gates Now He S Being Groomed By His Physician Mother, Lucy, And The Gentle Giant Knock Out To Become The Next Leader Of Men But An Army Of Slavers Is On Its Way, And The War They Ll Wage For The City S Resources Could Mean The End Of Mankind As We Know It Can Gus Become Humanity S Savior And If So, Will It Mean Becoming A Dictator, A Martyr Or Maybe Something Far Worse Than Even The Zombies That Plague The Land ineedabookbrenna.wordpress.comI have an obsession with zombies It s weird and twisted, I know When I think about the horror movies that have left me most terrified and the only ones that really come to mind are zombie related 28 days later, 28 weeks later, Dawn of the Dead, even the sketch comedy horror versions like Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead leave me with vivid nightmares I think it has something to do with the fact that everyone you know and love becomes a monster Oh, and the fact that there is a possibility that there could be a six billion monster mob chasing after you If you survive that is Despite how terrified I am, I keep gravitating towards everything zombie related, including novels Honestly, it wasn t until my newest and probably most powerful obsession with The Walking Dead the television series and the graphic novels that I really understood what it was I loved about zombies obviously I don t love the zombies themselves rational considering they are flesh eating monsters who used to be our friends and family but I love the dark stories of how the survivors figure out how to survive when society as we know it is in shambles This is exactly why I loved This Dark Earth Oh, and the fact that is has probably one of the most bad ass covers to date The Deal The novel starts off in a hospital and the initial outbreak is narrated by an oncologist, Lucy As the virus spreads, the world crumbles and the few uninfected struggle to survive typical recipe for a zombie novel The novel is broken down into seven chapters, each chapter written in first person narrative from the point of view of a different character As the novel progresses we hear from Lucy, the doctor, a kind hearted trucker name Knock Out, a middle aged woman, Tessa, who is determined to survive no matter what the cost, and Lucy s freakishly smart son, Gus, among others Through the various narratives we learn how they were surviving when nearly no one else is My Take This Dark Earth by John Honour Jacobs was exactly what I want when I pick up a zombie novel It was a dark and terrifying tale I could not read this one before I went to bed with strong characters struggling to survive in a society that has gone to shit And it just happened to include flesh eating shamblers The novel was broken down into seven chapters and each chapter was narrated by a different character in first person Each character has such a different narrative voice and because of this, the novel actually almost reads like a collection of different short stories on the same topic rather than a novel Typically, I am not a huge fan of this style of writing but in This Dark Earth it works While I didn t love every character s voices or stories ex Tessa or the Engineers I do believe each chapter was an important contributor to the text as a whole Plus, the characters that I had become attached to Gus, Lucy, Wallis, Knock Out were, for the most part, still in the thick of things In my opinion, the multiple narrative voices also add to the credibility of the novel Personally, there is nothing I hate than an unbelievable story where the same ordinary guy survives impossible situation after impossible situation It is simply annoying Thankfully, Jacobs didn t fall victim to this because the narrator changing from chapter to chapter solves this problem it is now possible for the person in that specific situation to die without ending the story Clearly this adds to the suspense.Personally, I couldn t put this book down I found it to be a refreshing take on the genre Yes, there was a lot of the typical stuff you see in a zombie novel ex a mysterious and unexplainable virus, the aid of the armed forces, the innocent child who becomes jaded but in my opinion the brilliant survival ideas and the incredible characters make up for it.For me, the highlight of This Dark Earth was the characters specifically Lucy, Gus and the gentle Knock out Yes, there were zombies Yes, there was violence Yes, there was suspense But most importantly, there were fabulous characters who you will fall in love with, who you want to survive, who you truly believe deserve to survive If You Liked I am Legend and The Walking Dead then This Dark Earth is right up your alley. The zombie thing has been done gore, brain eating, fast and slow and for the most part, there s been a reliance on tropes A few novels play with these tropes, turning them on their heads, making them something new, creating stories with heft or humor or gravitas S.G Browne s BREATHERS comes to mind as does WORLD WAR Z, and now so should THIS DARK EARTH Gripping and intelligent, the cover declares it a zombie novel, but you ll find it to be so much. Amazing Review to come closer to release date, but you should go pre order this one nowseriously D If there is one thing you Elitist Book followers are aware of about me it has got to be the number of things I don t like in fiction and how good authors can subvert these preferences and make me eat crow So in another installment of Things Nick Hates I present you drumroll please zombies I m sorry, but they bore me I used to like them and I still hold onto the belief that THE ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE and WORLD WAR Z are some of my favorite books of all time Still, there is a saturation of zombies sort of like the over abundance of vampires a couple years ago and I find it tiring There are only so many things you can do with zombies and it would take something different to interest me in another piece of undead fiction THIS DARK EARTH by John Hornor Jacobs is that something different and it served to remind me how much I used to love the sub genre The apocalypse has come and gone, ushered in by a zombie outbreak and attempted nuclear containment The remnants of humanity live in a pre industrial society, hunkered down in the ad hoc fortress of Bridge City The city is near impervious to the zeds, a marvel of ingenuity and medieval siege mastery Humans though, have a capacity for evil that far exceeds the mindless, flesh eating, undead An army of slavers has Bridge City in its sights and the survival of civilization falls to Gus, the young man that designed the very fortifications that have kept the wild at bay for so long Do you know how THIS DARK EARTH manages to be both a zombie novel and a book that I love It s a zombie novel but it s not about zombies Don t get me wrong, there are loads of zombies within the pages Tens of thousands of zombies There s plenty of bludgeoning and brain destroying, with buckets of putrid gore and viscera But that s not the focus of the novel THIS DARK EARTH goes to show that even in the wake of global catastrophe, even with the cannibal dead roaming the earth, the living can still manage to take the whole evil cake THIS DARK EARTH is a story of family, community, and survival The three main characters are Lucy, her son Gus, and Jim aka Knock Out Lucy is cold and clinical She is a brilliant doctor, with a highly analytical mind that leaves her detached from humanity She is not delicate in the least Lucy is almost robotic, but that s not to say she is stiff or thin as a character When she exhibits a rare moment of tenderness it is touching Knock Out is a gentle giant, he was a trucker before the end of the world and becomes a loyal companion after He is a genuinely kindhearted man that serves as the adhesive for the others He s the sidekick to Lucy s superhero And then we have Gus, the brilliant child that designed Bridge City who grows into the hardened man that must lead the free and the living Gus shares much in common with his mother, his intense personality is only compounded by the trials of growing up in this post apocalyptic world He is a strange young man, extremely intellectual and still inexperienced in many ways He has a lot to learn before he can become humanity s savior There are other characters, three of the chapters are told from their perspectives, but they serve primarily to forward the story of Lucy, Gus, and Knock Out In this way THIS DARK EARTH felt like a collection of short stories based around a central thread It s not, but the shifting narrative between first person, third person, and one chapter told in journal format gives an interesting, multi faceted view of proceedings The first half of the novel is a somewhat standard post apocalyptic zombie affair One of the blurbs on the back of the book likens THIS DARK EARTH to Cormac McCarthy s THE ROAD and WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks The first part of the book definitely relates to THE ROAD, as Lucy and Knock Out scramble to survive in a world only recently turned upside down It s at the halfway mark that I became fully absorbed in the read It is here that we are introduced to Bridge City and the looming threat of the slaver army From here Gus and the city council race to find a way to stop the army s progress and defend all that they have built This is where the novel takes on a bit of the atmosphere of WORLD WAR Z, but really I couldn t help but think of the CBS action drama Jericho I loved the creation of Bridge City and the society that the survivors had established in the aftermath of the outbreak and nuclear fallout THIS DARK EARTH is a dark book go figure It displays the worst that mankind has to offer, from rape to slavery and greed There is heavy violence mainly zombie slaying but some living on living action too as well as a grisly torture Despite all this there is also a silver lining of hope Despite all the death and despair it shows that we can survive and adapt as a species we can look out for our own Recommended Age 16 Language You betcha.Violence Shooting, bludgeoning, burning, and a painful torture crucifixion Sex Sex and sex talk.Nick SharpsElitist Book Reviews This is a zombie experience like no otherLet me explain.Though there are zombies galore in this book I mean, of course there areIt s a zombie book Duh This book is about so much than the shambling undead.It is stories of people who survive the end of the world as we know it and the creation of another as they come to understand it.The dialogue and situations are raw and real, as they would be in any war This is after all a collection of stories detailing a fight to the death for the human race.The most compelling aspects of this read lie not in the humans battle with the zombies, but in their fight with each other and with themselves It is exciting to see how the threat of extinction effects the moral compasses of each of the players in this drama Driving a select few to the basest parts of themselves, making heroes of some, and causing others to question the existence of a true right or wrong at all.The number of fully developed characters that Mr Jacobs was able to include in this read while still maintaining the break neck pace of the novel and the edge of your seat action is simply phenomenal.Cases In Point Lucy the doctor, the mother, the wife, the leader of a new nationGus the son, the prodigy, the confused shy boy, the princeKnockout the trucker, the father, the lover the friend, the martyrTess the mother, the whore, the victim, the murdererKonstantine slaver, pimp, tyrant, PURE EVILThough this book is categorized as YA, this is by no means a book that be recommended for anyone under 16, due to graphic scenes depicting rape and violence.This is a story not to be missed, and one that once readwill not be forgotten.You can find this review on my blog at WTF Are You Reading This Dark Earth Sheds New Light on the Zombie No