Thursday, July 7, 2011

Review of ENTOMBED

Title: Entombed

Author: Brian Keene

Publisher: Camelot Books

Date: 2011

Pages: 204

Available:  Sold out.

Blurb: It has been several months since the disease known as Hamelin’s Revenge decimated the world. Civilization has collapsed and the dead far outnumber the living. The living seek shelter from the roaming zombie hordes, but one-by-one, those shelters are falling. Twenty-five survivors barricade themselves inside a former military bunker buried deep beneath a luxury hotel. They are safe from the zombies…but are they safe from one another? As supplies run low and despair sets in, each of them will find out just how far they’re willing to go to survive.

Let me first caution that, if you pick up Entombed expecting to read about hordes of zombies attacking the main characters, you will be disappointed. This is not The Rising, City of the Dead, or Dead Sea. In those novels, the living dead are the threat.  In Entombed, mankind (or what’s left of it) are the monsters. And they’re more frightening than anything Ob could conjure up.

The novel is told in first-person narrative by Pete, a tour guide at a former Cold War-era government relocation facility located beneath a luxury resort in West Virginia that has been converted into a museum.  When the zombie apocalypse finally reaches the resort, Pete and twenty-four survivors escape into the underground complex and lock themselves in, becoming trapped as the living dead swarm the doors and prevent their escape.  The consummate loner, Pete spends all his time in the museum’s movie room watching old movies, television shows, and cartoons, effectively ostracizing himself from the group.

The group soon faces an even greater threat than the zombies massed outside – starvation.  Although the museum has an adequate supply of water, the only food available is what is left in the break room vending machines, which is rapidly depleted.  After a month of entrapment, Chuck, the Alpha male and resident bully, calls the group together to discuss their only option for survival – cannibalism. Pete refuses to take part and goes off to watch movies, and so the others unanimously vote to let Pete be the volunteer.  (This reminds me of a saying a colleague used to use about five wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner is not democracy.)  When several members of the group show up at the visitor center to inform Pete of the decision, Pete resists with deadly consequences.  What ensues is a bitter fight for survival within the underground complex.

Entombed is a disturbing psychological study, a contemporary Lord of the Flies which details what happens to man once we have been yanked out of civilized society.  [Spoiler alert] Although in the beginning you feel for Pete’s plight and want him to survive, half way through the novella you begin to question his motives and wonder whether the rationale for what he does is based on insanity brought about by starvation or the thought processes of a sociopath.  [End spoiler alert]

The second novella in the book, White Fire, focuses on Captain Tom Collins and Phil McLeod who are transporting the bioweapon White Fire across Illinois when a tornado overturns their van and releases the contents on the town of Godfrey, with the anticipated deadly results.  While trying to handle the situation that is rapidly spiraling out of control, Collins confronts an unusual antagonist who forces Collins to face up to his own culpability in the catastrophe.

Fans of Brian Keene should not pass up this novella, if they can find a copy. I give it four out of five rotting zombie heads.

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