Written By: Sheldon Woodbury
This is the second book in a trilogy that began with Outbreak: The Hunger. In the first, an unknown virus has turned animals into zombie like predators that kill humans in the most brutal way possible. In Outbreak: The Mutation, the virus has spread to humans and created a rampaging zombie horde hunting the dwindling survivors. It’s survival of the fittest and the human zombies have slaughtered their way to the top of the food chain.
But be forewarned, this isn’t just another blood and guts splatterfest. As I was reading Outbreak: The Mutation, I was struck by how the story connected in such a powerful way to the times we live in. The zombies have only one goal and that’s to eliminate humans from the face of the Earth.
They’re a savage killing machine, a monstrous new terror that has to be stopped.
And that’s why I love this book.
It’s a story about heroes.
We first meet Dan Wilder and George Butsko, two battle scarred military hotshots who are fighting the growing zombie horde with every kind of makeshift resource they can muster. One of the great thrills of the book is seeing how they manage to survive when the odds seem all but impossible. They’re the best kind of elite military warrior, using their bravery and skill to wage war against a monolithic army of the undead. There are relentless scares and non-stop action as the soldiers battle the ravenous zombies in one amazing fight after another.
The other group we meet is cut from a very different cloth and don’t seem heroic at all. They’re a motley gang of ex-addicts holed up in an isolated Texas rehab facility. Walt Moses, a recovering pill and heroin addict, becomes their leader when they escape after a blistering zombie attack and are forced to hit the open road. Walt’s weapon of choice is a battered old baseball bat spiked with rusted nails. It was also the way he kept track of his recovery, one nail at a time. And this is when we see that heroes can come from the unlikeliest of places as this ragtag gang that’s hit rock bottom and fought their way back use their bravery and cunning to stay alive.
And that brings us to the zombies.
Because that’s the terrifying part of the book horror readers will love. As the scorching action steamrolls along the zombies keep evolving in surprising and gruesome ways. In the beginning they’re closer to traditional zombies, a staggering mindless mass. But then they begin to mutate into something we’ve never seen before. The story is built around a mystery about what they really are and what their apocalyptic purpose is. The enigma in the middle of the zombie mystery is Fi, the young girl from the first book, who is now an utterly frightening new kind of zombie creature. She’s a chilling creation that’s impossible to forget.
With all the great twists and surprises, the most stunning revelation is waiting for both groups when they meet at the end of their blood soaked journey through a devastated landscape that has mutated into something horrible too. It’s an America when terror has finally taken over. Along the way, hope has been in short supply, but both groups are clinging to a last ditch tactic that just might save the human race.
But again, this isn’t just a story about mindless mayhem, although there’s no shortage of that. It’s a story about how the human spirit can kick serious ass against the worst kind of terror imaginable.
The final showdown takes place in Spicewood, Texas between the remaining humans and the mutated zombie creatures. And this is ground zero for all the mysteries that have been piling up along the way, like all the dead bodies left behind. We finally learn the astonishing secret about the origin of the zombie virus, and are left with the haunting realization that the apocalyptic battle for our world is just beginning.
The writing is intense and vivid, barreling the story along in a way that’s both ferocious and thrilling. It has a cinematic quality like the best kind of horror or action movie.
How much did I love this book?