Rising, The (Book)

Reviewed by Johnny Butane

Written by Brian Keene

Published by Leisure Books

There’s been a lot of talk about this book on our beloved message boards and online in general, not to mention the “real world” and the overwhelming opinion is this; this book kicks ass. So finally I tracked down a copy (didn’t take much work, they have ‘em at Barnes & Noble, you know…) and I concur completely; The Rising does kick a copious amount of ass.

It’s the near future. The dead have risen from the grave quite unexpectedly thanks to some experiments being conducted in a secret government research facility, the kind of place in which the employees have no idea what the team down the hall is working on, and vice versa. Things go wrong, a dimensional rift is created, and soon the dead are among us again, only now they’re all filled with piss, vinegar, and the souls of entities pulled into our world from “the void”. They’re very happy to be corporeal again, of course, but also have a nasty habit of craving live human flesh to dine on.

And it’s not just the humans, oh no. Unlike most zombie epics, the humans are just one factor of the problem; the bodies of animals are brought back as well, giving an interesting new spin on just how dangerous the world could become if the dead did walk the Earth. I mean, it’s bad enough when your next door neighbor is rotting and hungry for you delicious skin, but when his pets come after you as well, it’s a very uncomfortable situation to be in.

The tale follows the adventures of Jim, a man who, on the verge of taking himself out of his own misery with a bullet to the gray matter, gets a cell phone call from his young son, hundreds of miles away. Jim has an excellent cell plan, apparently, and even though he misses the call the voice mail is enough to spur him into action. He’s determined to make it to his son and save him, so they will never be apart again. On the way he hooks up with a priest, and together they make their way cross-country. At the same time we’re introduced to other characters (one of which is one of the scientists that cause the big blunder in the first place) who all eventually converge on one spot; namely the fortified base of a military mad man.

Therein lies the only real issue I had with the book. Though Romero taught us that even in the event of a zombie apocalypse some guys just can’t help but be assholes (and get other assholes to follow), the mad military character was a bit to paint-by-numbers for my book. He was crazy, he believed the military was the only thing that could save the world and end the zombie plague, and he’s not afraid of taking some of his fellow living followers down if they get in his way. It’s not that he’s a badly-drawn character, he just comes into the game a bit late and seems to really only serve the purpose of being a bad (alive) man that doesn’t want our hero to do what he’s bound and determined to do. But it’s a minor complaint, and really does nothing to take away from the enjoyment of the book as a whole.

Keene has great skill in painting characters you really care about, people who, despite their very human faults, you really want to see win the day. Along with this he manages to squeeze in a lot of nasty, bloody, chewy zombie violence the kind we only pray for in zombie movies. I mean, when was the last time (outside of a Peter Jackson film) you got to see an undead pregnant woman walking around with an undead newborn resting her the cavity where here stomach used to be? That’s some fucked up stuff right there, friends.

I’ll make the rest of this review short and to the point; if zombies are your passion, if you love stories that show the end of the world in a new light while keeping some of the principals alive (did I mention the zombies can drive and shoot guns?), get this book. If you like horror, get this book. If you like good writing, get this book.

What I’m trying to say is: GET THE RISING!

4 out of 5

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Johnny Butane