You know, we’re not a territorial bunch here at AndyErupts but we each like our own particular “thing” from within the genre; Dr Robert is an afficionado of horror videogames, The Harleyquin loves his animal-based horror, particularly if said animal comes with fins and gills; and Andy will watch any slasher flick you sit him down in front of.
Me? I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptica. No matter how terrible it is, much like armageddon, I’ll see it through until the end… unless it’s Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead; I walked out of that particular flick.
Thankfully, I encountered no such problems with Fever, the latest undead offering from Wayne Simmons.
“A deadly strain of flu has mysteriously mutated, causing the deaths of millions throughout Ireland and beyond. But the infected don’t stay dead for long, rising up to become flesh-eating monsters.
In a quarantined lab just outside Belfast, lab worker Ellis and security guard Abe fight their way through corridors of the living dead, determined to expose a gruesome truth. Elsewhere, ageing conspiracy theorist Tom wracks his brain to piece together the clues of a cover-up.
Meanwhile, a young child and her two unlikely wards find themselves in the middle of a cat and mouse game involving the remains of the military, a covert government department and the ever-increasing throng of dead.
The fate of humanity rests in their hands.”
Although this novel can be categorised as a sequel to Flu, I would suggest that description is not entirely accurate. The events of Fever not only encompass the chronology of Flu but add a little preamble and also reveals the fate of those left standing at the end of Flu. Simmons skilfully weaves the events of Flu into Fever without them becoming intrusive, obvious or simply an exercise in repetition. Fever is very much an expansion and development of the nightmarish vision of Northern Ireland that Simmons created in Flu.
For me, the greatest surprise came when Simmons employed a plot device that I have encountered only in Justin Cronin’s The Passage and again, the revelation that came with it was quite the shock to the system and made Fever all the more memorable.
Critically, I suspect that some may not appreciate the set-up of Fever, with very small chapters, darting between the different threads that Simmons develops here. However, I would suggest that such criticism is ill-founded since this particular style compelled me to read on and at all times the plight of the characters involved was fresh in my mind.
On that note, yet again Simmons conjures up characters that are certainly not your stereotypical Hollywood zombie fodder. Although you may feel that you have seen some of these characters within the genre before, the author makes them incredibly believable by infusing them with all the faults, failings and experiences that come with living life, rather than the two-dimensional creations found in some books and films within the genre. As equally impressive as his characters is Simmons willingness to despatch those same said characters when, if you’re used to more traditional films, you may expect certain individuals to make it a little longer…
Whereas Flu offered commentary on prejudice, politics and sectarianism, Fever is a straight-up action horror set in the environment created by the Troubles in Northern Ireland and narrated amply by Flu; and really jacks up the pace set by its predecessor and delivers plenty of gore while still developing the Flu universe further and leaving the door wide open for a third instalment; which I am very much waiting in eager anticipation for.