This Dark Earth, by John Hornor Jacobs is a beautifully written tale that doesn’t serve to provide any illumination on zombies. Instead, Jacobs shows how people are the ones to be feared in an apocalypse. When the infection presents in Dr. Lucy’s waiting room, soldiers show up and start executing the infected and the normal. She’s chased by a gunship as she tries to make her escape from the hospital, then an electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electronics, followed by a nuclear explosion. No expense is spared to try to contain the outbreak, but, like cockroaches, Lucy and a truck driver named Knockout survive. So do the zombies.
The shamblers, or zeds as the zombies are called, serve as moaning, groaning, objects to be killed in between more important concerns. They are dangerous only because there are so many of them. Though the people in this novel form groups to increase their chance of survival, the undead actually form “damilies,” a foursome or more of zombies that travel and kill together, “Almost as if there’s something in them that they remember about being human.” Even so, the people in this bleak, bloodthirsty novel don’t explore this phenomenon any deeper than to note it and move on.
The sheer, utter hopelessness of survival is what keeps this story grinding forth. Though I found myself rooting for the humans, I questioned my decision as I watched the last living members of the human race fall into the habit of conflict rather than cooperation. At the end, I felt more for the zombies as they mindlessly tried to survive in a hostile world than the people who seemed determined to mess it up.
Buy This Dark Earthat Amazon.
- Friday Book Review: I, Zombie by Hugh Howey (feedthezombiechildren.org)
- Book Review Friday, Pay Me In Flesh (Mallory Caine, Zombie at Law (feedthezombiechildren.org)