Welcome to my blog, the story of my continuing journey into the World of Zombie Wargames.

Saturday 10 March 2012

Book Views and a Book Review

Dog Art- "A night on the town"
          Firstly, a confession, I’m no great fan of fiction in printed form but when I started this zombie project I really had little background knowledge of the genre other than the generally accepted viewpoint of zombies – that they’re shambling, moaning, undead who can be killed with a bullet to the head.  So when I started to read zombie fiction I looked upon it as “research”, I wanted to know how the apocalypse could start (natural virus, prion,  man-made bacterium or otherwise etc.) and generally speaking I wasn’t disappointed.  I’ve come across the man made terrorist variety, an accidental world-wide food induced plague and a general natural occurring virus, plus many others.  I also gleaned from my reading possible scenarios for wargaming purposes that fitted well with the “All Things Zombie” rules and also as a bye-product I’ve quite enjoyed what I have read !

          What has been disappointing however is the quality of what there is on the market and I don’t just mean the actual content.   The quality of proof-reading and editing in a lot of cases leaves a lot to be desired, from the downright silly (three different spellings of the same word on the same page) to the ridiculous – “rogue” and “rouge” spring to mind.  Whilst I accept that typos will occasionally occur, with the best will in the world I don’t believe that the same typo can be made so many times.
          I think that I’ve been fairly lucky though, in that most of what I’ve read (or not) has come on recommendation from within the zombie community (mostly from http://vampifansworldoftheundead.blogspot.com/) which tends to be the way it is.  The few times that I’ve not gone on recommendation has been a bit of a hit and miss affair with better than about a fifty percent success rate.  It is interesting to see an author’s viewpoint of this (again on Vampifan’s blog site), which can be found here:
Scroll down to the comments to get the authors views.

            The zombie apocalypse scenario is such a limited genre that you would expect a lot of these novels to fall into clichéd formats and indeed some do.  A typical theme is that of a survivor finding their own way to a new community or gathering other survivors around them to form their own community and a hundred other variations in a similar vein. It is a common theme too that the central character has some “special” skill or other that sets them apart from the crowd and makes them a more likely survivor – such as armed forces experience, piloting skills and a multitude of others. I can think of one central character that could give Steve Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme and Jackie Chan a run for their money !

 There are though some notable exceptions that I’ve come across in my admittedly limited experience.
“Feed” by Mira Grant is set 20 years after the apocalypse and society is more or less functioning as normally as possible.
“Patient Zero” by Jonathan Maberry is a novel where the zombie plague is a terrorist plot but limited to specifically localised exposure.
There are others of course, but these two spring to mind easily and have obviously made an impression on me.

Outpost by Adam Baker - A Review

I was going to start to read Sean T Page’s “The War against the Walking Dead” but I had thrust into my hand a book by my eldest son with the instruction “Read this – It’s good” - so I did.

So, here’s my review of “Outpost” by Adam Baker, publishers Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, price on rear cover of paperback £6.99, first published 2011.
I haven’t given a formal book review before (there are so many others that do the job that much better and I read on the recommendation of others anyway), but as I haven’t found anyone that’s either read or reviewed this particular book ion the zombie community, I’ll give some brief viewpoints of why I liked this book so much.

Firstly, the setting is to my mind fairly unique; the book starts with a small already isolated community aboard an oilrig on the Arctic Circle. Limited reports of the world going to hell filter in to them sporadically, but nothing specific – this alone turns the scenario sort of back to front from the norm.

Secondly the central character is a female (nothing new there), called Jane.  If one imagines Dawn French in her role as the Vicar of Dibley then we have Jane, who is also a clergyman.  She has no special abilities though and unlike Geraldine (the Vicar of Dibley) Jane is losing or has lost her faith from page one !

The story romps along at a good pace, with good development of characters and whilst this is a book obviously in the zombie genre, the word “zombie” doesn’t make an appearance, even the terms “undead”, “walking dead” or similar don’t make it in until about half way through and even then the terms are only used in passing by the characters.  It may be bleak for the characters (as it mostly should be for the most part, in my opinion) but there are also times of light relief.

I don’t like to give away the story-line, there are many twists and turns to it, all fairly believable (given that we’re dealing with a world-wide zombiesque apocalypse) and it doesn’t always turn out for the best!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and given that I can pick up a book after a week and continue to read it without qualms, I couldn’t with this one – I read as much as I could each day over the course of this last week.  Had I had my new spectacles I think I would have finished it in two days (all 369 pages), I was that gripped by it.

All in all a good read, there were no off-putting typos or recurring spelling mistakes, the word zombie wasn’t used incessantly, nor was there any reference to Romero and the central characters weren’t superhuman.
So on my simple scale of 1-5, I give this book a 4, in my opinion its well worth a read.

In other news:

As mentioned above I have new spectacles, the world isn’t blurry anymore, I’m feeling a lot better and my medications have changed so I expect to have an increased production in both building and painting – just keeping my fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading and to those I haven't already welcomed, "thanks for dropping by".


  1. By an incredible coincidence, I ordered this book two days ago from Amazon, as I was attracted by the reviews that readers gave it. It looks like I'm onto a winner! Thanks for the honest review, Joe.

    [Rant mode on] It does seem that zombie books and novels seem to be more prone to spelling and grammatical errors than many other genre books and it really does annoy me. The thing is with typos is that it isn't the author's fault. These errors should be picked up by the publishers. Unfortunately, a lot of people do think it's the fault of the author and a spate of typos can reflect badly on him or her. By all means vent your wrath at such incompetence but do direct it at the proper guilty parties (publishers and their proof-readers) and not the innocent (authors). [Rant mode off]

    Oh, and thanks for the plug for my own blog. It's appreciated.

  2. You're absolutely right Bryan, it is the editors, proof-readers and ultimately the publishers who are responsible, I hadn't intended have a dig at the authors.

    1. I know you weren't having a dig at the authors, Joe. We have commented on this very subject many times through our e-mails and I know this is a subject you care about as passionately as I do.

  3. Glad to hear you have new glasses. Outposts sounds good i will give a go.

  4. Thanks Brummie, hope you enjoy the read as much as I did.

  5. Hmm...looks like I'll have to check some books myself, too. Thanks, those kind of reviews are most helpful!

    1. Thanks Mathyoo, I think its quite important to have as wide a range of reasons for my own apocalypse as possible and reading others' causes will help meformulate my own ideas.

  6. Thanks for the review. I usually lag way behind on my reading, but I'm going to put this up to the head of the list. Glad to hear you got soe new specs. Looking forward to seeing more of your builds.

    1. Thanks Joe, my reading list continues to grow too, unfortunately there are so many other priorities in this hobby.