by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes
Read Atria Books’s description of Devil’s Wake
Book Reviewed by Emanuel Carpenter
Something is turning the world into zombies. Perhaps it’s a virus or maybe even the latest flu vaccine. Whatever the cause, prevention is simple. Don’t get bitten! Or maybe, prevention isn’t as easy as you think. So goes the plot for Steven Barnes’ and Tananarive Due’s new novel “Devil’s Wake.”
The novel opens with mayhem. A ruckus at a hospital causes chaos. Among the chaos is Kendra and the Brookings family. The pandemonium hits close to home when Kendra’s father is bitten by one of the infected. They watch him closely because if he turns into one of them, a life-decision must be made.
Miles away, a group of troubled teenagers led by Piranha and Terry, face the same situation when a friend is bitten. At first he seems normal, but eventually the dog doesn’t want to be near him. Next thing you know, they need to shove him in a deep freezer to keep him from infecting others. Imagine the sheer terror has be bangs on the door, demanding his release. The demand is relentless and lasts for days.
When Kendra joins up with Piranha, Terry, and the other teenagers, things get interesting. Can they save the world together? Or hell, can they even save themselves? Or will they eventually succumb to what they’re seeing on television; more bites and more transformations into zombie-like creatures? They must travel to Devil’s Wake in a jalopy of a school bus for refuge. That is, if the zombies don’t get them along the way.
Barnes and Due are skilled writers. The characters in the book are realistic, even if it’s in a zombie thriller; and you will undoubtedly cheer for Kendra and the others to survive. You may even ask yourself what you might do in a situation if your mother, father, son, or daughter was turned into a zombie. Could you kill them for your own survival? Or would the familial ties cause you to pause?
The story within the story is interesting as well; the cause of the mayhem. What if it is a flu vaccine or food? The novel will make you think twice about your next vaccine or even the food you eat. Is a flu shot really just a flu shot; or is it something more — a conspiracy perhaps?
All in all, “Devil’s Wake” is a fairly decent novel. It loses points for predictability and for a somewhat slow moving plot. If you’re accustomed to movies in this genre, such as the hit Zombieland, you might expect a bit more action than the deliberate pacing of this book.
Still, Due and Barnes work well together. Their skills are evident in the intricacies of character development and in the fact that even in a zombie thriller, they cause you to think. Readers, especially young adults who enjoy books like Twilight and Harry Potter, should enjoy this one as well. Just in time for Halloween, this book might be more of a treat than Gummy Bears for the kiddies, at least the older ones.