Taking into account how much I enjoyed David Moody’s Autumn, a post-apocalyptic tale of the walking dead in the UK, I was genuinely concerned about whether its sequel Autumn: The City, would measure up, especially in the knowledge that after this sequel, there are still a number of titles remaining in the Autumn series…
The book offers the following synopsis:
“A virulent disease has ripped across the face of the planet, killing billions of people in under twenty-four hours. Few remain alive to care how it happened; all they know is that the full extent of the disease is yet to be revealed.
A small group of survivors have been cowering in fear in the desolate remains of a silent city, besieged on all sides by the thousand upon thousand of plague victims, when a company of soldiers unexpectedly appears. Does this sudden military presence bring hope and answers- or just more fear, pain and destruction?
Far more than an ordinary sequel, Autumn: The City expands on the nightmare of the first novel and takes the reader closer to discovering what caused the death of billions of people on that inauspicious September day.”
Although a sequel, Autumn: The City runs almost concurrently to the timeline of Autumn and introduces us to further characters within the universe that Moody has created as well as some familiar survivors from the first instalment in the series. This is not to say that this work is simply a recap or indeed treading old ground; in fact, I would suggest that Autumn: The City is quite different to its predecessor. This difference is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination and to my mind, is akin to the difference between Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens; the former being a claustrophobic, atmospheric horror and the latter being an action horror of superior calibre. That is not to say that Autumn: The City can simply be pigeon-holed as such.
Again, Moody is in no rush to tell his story; and this addition to his Autumn universe sees a larger group and how they are coping with the undead menace baying at their doors…
As in Autumn, Moody’s undead continue to evolve much to the alarm of his protagonists. Along with their evolution comes the inevitable degradation of their physical state, which the author narrates incredibly effectively with his compelling prose which is quite graphic when describing decaying, diseased flesh. As opposed to Autumn, Moody does not spend as much time in The City dealing with the immediate aftermath of the unspecified pandemic and moves his story along from the time period occupied by Autumn.
I always try to be as objective as possible when considering books and an issue that I always try and deal with when tackling a sequel is whether or not the book can stand alone. This is a difficult matter with Autumn: The City, since it occupies the same timeline as its predecessor and so, yes, I would suggest that Autumn: The City, can be read without any knowledge of Autumn. However, I am of the opinion that the reader’s experience will only be enhanced by reading the novels in the sequence in which the author intended. I have read books out of turn before and regretted it. Learn from my mistakes, fiends!
Like its predecessor, Autumn: The City is a short, punchy read at sub 300 pages; is very well-written and it will take you no time at all to consume; and with the knowledge that there are further books in the Autumn series to read, Autumn: The City admirably advances Moody’s tale of post-apocalyptica and the walking dead and has an ending left wide-open for the next title in the series.