Review

Cannibal Kingdom by John L. Campbell

“Deep in an Indonesian jungle, a careless tourist releases an ancient evil that has lain dormant for centuries. Appearing as a virus, completely without symptoms and seemingly benign, Trident quickly infects the world’s population. Silently it waits, counting down to the moment when it will reveal its true, terrifying nature.

It is only weeks before the presidential elections, and Garrison Fox, a decorated Marine and devoted husband and father, is almost assured of a return to the White House for a second term. As the campaign nears its final days, the First Family finds itself scattered across the U.S.

At an Ohio rally and across the globe, Trident suddenly unleashes its horrible power, transforming unsuspecting people into merciless killers driven to feed. When an infected Secret Service turns on him, President Fox is forced to flee across an America plunging deeper into savagery with each passing hour.

In Atlanta, a CDC researcher will work against her own mortality in an effort to stop an extinction-level event. In Pennsylvania, a newly commissioned second lieutenant is hurled into a war for which he was never trained. And moving east toward a secure mountain bunker, President Fox must find a way to save his family, his country and his own life…if he’s not already too late.”

I’ve read Campbell’s Omega Days series, which also features zombies, and mostly enjoyed them.  There were times that I felt the novels were a little scattered or just didn’t quite hit the mark plot-wise, but I’ve kept up with them since they’re set in Northern California and I enjoy reading about places that I’m familiar with.  Seeing that the author had released a stand-alone zombie novel caught my curiosity, plus it got tons of good reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I decided to give it a shot.  And I guess I’m just not the right audience for this particular book.

For one thing, the editing in this book is sub-par.  I found missing words, misspellings, and even homophone confusion (“principle” and “principal”, more than once).  At one point, a zombie is being autopsied, and the doctor cuts open the scalp and pulls the forward over the face to reach the skull, and yet somehow, the doctor sees the corpse’s eye twitch.  Another issue that I had was with the number of tired tropes the author uses–I’m specifically thinking of a female character on a deserted road who encounters the one psycho that wants to imprison and rape her.  And quite a few characters display tendencies towards the “lawful stupid” alignment, refusing to resist the urge to go roaming alone in zombie-infested territory or believing that it’s amoral to execute someone in the throes of turning into a zombie until they’ve actually turned and bitten someone.

The biggest gripe that I have is, oddly enough, the author’s attempt at a scientific explanation of the Trident virus.  Well, that’s half the problem, since the virus isn’t actually a virus, but the entire book focuses on explaining it like a virus.  And it acts like one, even down to the fact that it appears to be almost entirely similar to ebola.  But it’s not a virus!  Augh, my head… I wish the author had made up his mind.  In my opinion, it’s really tricky to write a book like this one where you attempt to use science, because you can’t half-ass it.  If you’re going to invoke science, you need to go all the way.  Here, the characters can study the virus/curse/thing and watch how it operates in the human body (but not animals, because Reasons), but the world’s top virologists can’t do a thing about it.  And at the end, the solution to stopping the zombies makes absolutely no sense, and there’s not the slightest attempt to justify it.

I hate to say it, but if this book was a movie, it would be made for TV and air Sunday afternoon at 2pm.  Good if you’re bored and have nothing else to do, but not much else.  If you’re an aficionado of zombie fiction, skip this one.

This book was a personal purchase.

(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)

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