Life can be a gamble. In fact, life is full of gambles. Every decision we make has direct consequences, whether they are obvious or not. David Moody took a massive gamble when he unleashed his zombie novel Autumn on the internet for FREE. The gamble paid off and more than half a million downloads, a handful of sequels and movie deals later, Moody has the kind of acclaim that many authors can only dream of.
With that kind of hype, I was wary about reading Autumn, which comes with the following introduction on the back cover:
“In under twenty-four hours a vicious and virulent disease destroys almost all of the population. Thousands die every second. Billions are killed.
There are no symptoms and no warnings. Within moments of infection the victims suffer a violent and agonising death. Only a handful remain. By the end of the first day those survivors wish they were dead.
A small group of desperate people take shelter together in a village hall on the outskirts of a large city. Too afraid to venture out into the infected world, their shelter becomes a prison. The frightened group begins to splinter and crack under the emotional and physical pressure of the inexplicable situation.
Terrified and trapped, with no electricity, water or supplies, the survivors exist from hour to hour.
Then the disease strikes again. And all hell breaks loose.”
From the opening page, Moody had my attention. There’s no gentle preamble to ease you in and introduce the characters going about their previously mundane lives; Autumn drops you in at zero hour of an unexplained outbreak.
I don’t recall the word “zombie” being used within the book at all and although Autumn is described as “the hit zombie novel” on the front cover, I would suggest that Moody’s undead, so far, are a little different to the zombie of modern pop culture. However, there is no doubt that in Autumn, the dead have risen…
Interestingly, I found that the absence of the word “zombie” or the fact that clearly none of the characters had ever seen a Romero flick concerning. The world created by Moody in Autumn is incredibly believable, with very ordinary people who are subjected to extraordinary and horrific circumstances at the centre of proceedings.
The language employed by the author on the whole, is straightforward yet incredibly illustrative. I could picture every event and location narrated within the book. It is with the depiction of the undead that I would suggest that Moody comes into his own. Where many authors would simply rely on the use of the word “zombie” or the term “walking dead” to illustrate their point, Moody employs graphic descriptions of decaying flesh, diseased corpses; and as the novel advances, the state of putrefaction of the undead progresses also.
Those readers looking for a mindless action horror novel will be left disappointed by Autumn. Although the book has more than its fair share of imminent peril and impending doom for the central characters, Moody is in no rush to tell his story and for that, I am grateful. With Autumn, Moody has created a compelling, character driven zombie tale and although the undead are very much omni-present, the book very much focuses on the actions and consequences thereof for the individuals at the heart of the story and how they deal with the situation in which they find themselves. Moreover, Moody deals admirably with the various emotions that people in such an extreme situation would invariably be going through, principally: fear, despair and grief at the loss of their former life and all of their loved ones.
I would suggest to you that Autumn’s power lies with its characters and the very real situation they find themselves in. There are no ex-special forces commandos among the survivors, no treasure trove of weapons to be found to aid their cause. These are ordinary people in a horrific situation, dealing with it as best they can, with varying degrees of success.
At under 300 pages and very well-written, it will take you no time at all to consume Autumn which starts strong and finishes powerfully; and its not a book that you’re likely to forget and I for one cannot wait to see what the rest of the Autumn series has in store. You don’t have to take my word for it, the plaudits for Autumn have come from those whose opinion is far more valued than my own, such as award-winning writer Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, Bad Moon Rising) who stated:
“With Autumn, David Moody paints a picture of a marvellously bleak dystopian future where the world belongs to the hungry dead. It’s the creepy start to a compelling series”.