Zombies again. The only thing more relentless than zombie walkers coming at ya on the small screen is the never-ending avalanche of zombie novels with a wide variety of approaches from zombie turkeys to zombie tetherball in the high school down the street.
In WR Peden’s fast-paced entry in the genre, we’re quickly tossed into the action when Cordell Banks, an Iraqi war vet and family man with huge gaps in his memory, finds himself trying to escape from a horde of zombies in a downtown hotel. How did he get there? He doesn’t remember. In short order, he’s surrounded by members of the Soldiers of Zed military group who take out the zombies and inform Banks about their private headquarters as the official U.S. Government apparently no longer exists.
In equally short order, Banks rescues a young man named DJ from yet more zombies and the two begin a cross-country journey to find the Soldiers of Zed base and escape from the clutches of another quasi-military outfit calling itself the Silent Soldiers. It’s not clear what the Silent Soldiers want from the pair, but Banks and DJ are continually on the run from them as well as the inevitable seas of mindless but easy to kill zombies wandering pretty much everywhere.
Soldiers of Zed is non-stop action with Banks and DJ, as well as the reader, rarely able to pause to catch our breaths. At such a pace, despite the story being told in the first person (From Banks perspective), we don’t get much reflection or philosophical thought about what it all means. While we know Banks is looking for his family, we see only occasional flashes from his memories and not many emotional tugs regarding the quest.
Mostly, we get a detailed and vivid play-by-play of Banks’s actions, both the planning and then execution.
This isn’t one of those speculative fiction outings with a message or theme or warning. It’s a straight-ahead grim and often grisly roller-coaster of a ride. In the end, Soldiers of Zed is strictly for zombie fans, and there’s no shortage of such folks. I suspect their favorite words in the book will be in the title—book one. Obviously, there’s more to come and if you make it to the cliff-hanger ending, book two won’t arrive soon enough.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Nov. 5, 2017: