After reading Drop Dead Gorgeous by Wayne Simmons, I was keen to return to the bleak post-apocalyptic Belfast that the author had created and left wide-open for a return at the end of DDG in which, . And so, I eagerly set about reading its sequel, Doll Parts.
The book comes with the following synopsis:
“Roughly 99% of Belfast’s population suddenly dropped dead.
Some have risen again, and a horde of the beautiful undead is descending upon the city, wreaking bloody vengeance on the few left alive.
An unlikely group of survivors flee the carnage, heading for the city’s main airport. But their refuge there may quickly come to an end as the living dead close in to besiege the living.”
Doll Parts picks up almost immediately from where Drop Dead Gorgeous left off with our protagonists still fighting for survival against the savage onslaught of the undead. In keeping with the flow of the story from the end of DDG, Doll Parts starts off at breakneck pace and simply does not let up. Where DDG progresses patiently towards its inevitable and bloody conclusion, Doll Parts rockets along as if the reader had merely turned the page to a new chapter rather than picking up a new book entirely. In keeping with this tempo, Simmons ramps up the bodycount and gorehounds will not be left disappointed. The action and deaths within Doll Parts are brutal and the author festoons his work with brains and other assorted viscera as if they were punctuation marks.
Simmons introduces new characters to proceedings and once again creates painfully real individuals who bring their own fallacies, dark secrets and “quirks” of their personalities to proceedings, which ultimately, for many of them, prove to be their undoing; and Simmons is in no way hesitant about despatching his protagonists. I would suggest to you that it is this aspect of crime and consequence that elevates both Drop Dead Gorgeous and Doll Parts above many other works within the walking dead sub-genre.
Much of the sectarianism that provides fuel for the fire of division among characters in Drop Dead Gorgeous is left behind in Doll Parts, rendering it more akin to a straight-up action/horror novel. However, to categorise it as such would be unfair since Simmons continues the evolution of his unique antagonists in a direction that I had not anticipated, making the reading of Doll Parts all the more satisfying.
Despite the characters having transportation and being able to move with relative freedom around what remains of Belfast, Simmons creates a sense of dread and foreboding throughout proceedings due to the near omni-present walking dead, no matter where the characters run to.
Critically, the pace of Doll Parts may leave a reader fresh to the universe that Simmons has created a little lost or intimidated. However, I would suggest that Doll Parts is not intended to be read as a stand-alone novel and I am grateful that the author has bypassed much of the recapping that is prevalent in many follow-up works. Moreover, Simmons spent much of Drop Dead Gorgeous developing his bleak and foreboding Belfast and ought not to have to retread old ground unnecessarily.
Doll Parts is a well-written, bloody sequel to the fantastic Drop Dead Gorgeous that due to the author’s style, pace and content, will not take long to read at all. If you have yet to read either book, I would suggest that you obtain Drop Dead Gorgeous before starting Doll Parts; it can only enhance your appreciation of both books.