by Steven W. Booth & Harry Shannon
Genius Publishing (2012)
Zombies, man. Yeah.
A year or so ago I read a short story called "Jailbreak" by Booth and Shannon. It was about a hot female sheriff in a town full of zombies. I wasn't blown away by the book, but I did think the main character, Sheriff Penny Miller, was a treat to read and welcomed the idea of a novel with her in the lead. Well, that novel became a reality and it's called The Hungry.
As far as zombie novels go, this book is not out to reinvent the wheel. There's a horde of zombies and there's pretty lady with an itchy trigger finger--aaand action!
The story starts out with a brief look as to how the outbreak begins, then it jumps right into Penny's shoes as her tiny town of Flat Rock, Nevada is besieged by the undead. She might have an easier time of it, but she has her hands full with a cagey criminal named Scratch. It doesn't take long for her and her deputy to get trapped in the jailhouse along with Scratch and another prisoner. Things turn ugly and they have to band together to fight their way out, only with Penny and Scratch as the only two left in town still standing. Scratch goes his way, Penny begrudgingly goes hers when it's clear she can't keep him in custody while the town goes to Hell. That right there is basically how "Jailbreak" played out, and what ensues is a roller coaster of one insane twist after the other.
If there's any chemistry between the comely sheriff and the biker with bedroom eyes, it doesn't play out very well. Of course, it's kind of difficult for romantic entanglements when the undead are shambling after you from every direction. And Penny's reunion with her ex-husband, Terril Lee, goes from amusing to annoying in no-time flat. In fact, it's kind of amazing these characters can coexist for as long as they do, because they're so incredibly ill-suited for one another, I kept expecting them to turn on each other like feral dogs.
Distracting from the interplay between characters is the onslaught of plot twists. It is a ceaseless deluge of road blocks, both literal and figurative, thrown in front of Penny and whoever is in her company at any one time. Zombie hordes, murderous bikers, maniacal soldiers, covert agents, and even more zombie hordes are flung in Penny's path with such rapidity, it's astonishing to think this all happens in the run of a day and inside a dust bowl of a county.
I've read better zombie novels, but I don't think I've ever read one with such a frenetic pace. If you're a fan of the undead and high-octane action and violence, you'll want to check it out. In the mean time, I just might have to check out the sequel, which could hold some really interesting twists all its own considering the revelations that occur at the end of this novel.