Dead City opens with odd reports of survivors attacking rescue workers after five powerful hurricanes have pounded the Gulf of Mexico and left the surrounding cities absolutely devastated. Just out of reach of harm’s way, San Antonio, Texas has become a popular safe zone for emergency shelters and evacuees from the destroyed cities. This is where our story begins. Following local police officer Eddie Hudson, Dead City wastes very little time establishing anything aside from a very basic setting and quick introduction of the main character (just enough to let you know that he’s a cop with a wife and new baby son), and instead throws readers into the opening scenes of the zombie apocalypse right away.
Early on in the book I was very unsure of how much I would enjoy it because of how quickly the author puts everything into motion. I don’t mean that it happens too early in the book, but he chose for the first event to pop up suddenly, but had the destruction spread too quickly to be considered logical.
Aside from the way the events were somewhat poorly initiated on the author’s part, there are also a few inconsistencies that bugged me. For instance, it doesn’t make sense that the very first reported event didn’t occur until later in the evening, but when our protagonist seeks refuge in a school — which let out, as stated in the dialogue specifically, at 3:00 PM — there are papers randomly strewn about all throughout the hallway, shit is tipped over, and there are dead people in the hallways. Aside from the poor attempt at creating an eerie setting (there is no logical reason for papers to be littering the hall floors), how could there have been havoc wreaked here several hours earlier, yet the first report wasn’t until late in the evening? It’s stupid.
Another thing that irritated me was the lack of use of pronouns. There were several instances where the author would use the same noun twice in a sentence and three times in the paragraph. There were noises behind the door as I approached the door, never looking away from the door because the door had something behind the door the door the door door. Door.
I understand that Joe McKinney wasn’t a professional writer when he wrote Dead City (he’s actually a San Antonio police officer), but the company who published his work is full of professional editors who could have easily fixed any issues with repetition.
Still, despite all of my complaints about the book’s shortcomings, I still rather enjoyed it. McKinney tells a fun zombie tale that is fast, entertaining, and enjoyable to read. Right up until the end when he crafts a ridiculously weak conclusion. I don’t mind happy endings, but that’s not what zombie mythology is about. I’m not going to spoil anything, but I will say that the end to Dead City could have been extremely memorable, emotional, and shocking. Instead we get a pussified, generic happy ending that puts a bandage on the entire devastating series of events and wastes all of its potential to be awesome.
Throughout this review I’ve done very little of anything that wasn’t bitching and complaining. However, I still admit that McKinney’s Dead City is one of the least awful zombie novels you’re ever going to read. That’s not necessarily saying much, but if you’re anything like me you love zombies. And if you love zombies, you are going to enjoy this book regardless of its many flaws.
Score: 5.0/10 (Mediocre)