…I figured I’d write a review. Before leaving for Maine, I decided to start Brian Keene‘s “The Rising“. It was recommended to me by a patron of the gym where I used to work. Unfortunately it’s taken me some time to not only find decent copies of the books, but to read them. The person that recommended them to me said that they weren’t a typical zombie story, and that I should have an open mind. That was certainly the understatement of the year!
“The Rising” is the story of a man named Jim who sets out to save his son from sentient zombies. The zombies are just human bodies inhabited by the Siqqusim, a special type of demon with a vendetta towards God. Apparently they were upset about being thrown out of Heaven and wanted to make God pay by wiping out all of creation. At the outset, that seems like a really difficult undertaking. However, the Siqqusim are led by a stylish leader named Ob, who happens to have two other brothers in the Void who are dying to get out and wreak havoc. The destruction of the Earth is supposed to happen in three waves: Ob comes along and possesses/wipes out humans and animals, when that is done his brother Ab is free to take over plant and insect life, and after that their third brother (forgive me for forgetting his name) and his demons walk across spreading a killer fire.
It’s alright that I’ve spoiled the demon take-over plot for you, as there is plenty of excitement to be gleaned from the characters themselves. There’s Jim and Danny – father and son, but also the main driving characters. Danny is locked in an attic and his father is rushing to save him. Jim meets Martin the preacher along the way, and Martin serves as his companion and spiritual guide along the way (but in a good sense – not annoying). Baker is a scientist that was responsible for the scientific experiment that let loose the demons from the Void. Along the way Baker becomes the guardian of a deaf man named Worm. Frankie is a hooker trying to kick a heroin habit, and she’s plagued with memories of her still-born child. There are some rather sick military men that the characters run into, but in keeping with my usually PG-rated reviews, I will leave it at that. There are many other interesting characters, and nobody seems superfluous.
I enjoyed the book overall, however there were a few things I could have done without. Keene seems to go out of his way to showcase just how many bad men appear to be left after the initial zombie rising. There are far too many rape scenes and general abuse scenes. I understand that it was commonplace in the universe he created, and it certainly gives an added emotional aspect, but I think in some ways it wasn’t necessary. To be honest, that is my only criticism of the book. (I read the second book, and it didn’t continue into “City of the Dead”).
On the good side, Keene’s characters are well constructed, and show a natural growth progression. Each character develops as the series goes on, some in good ways, and others in bad ways. In other reviews that I have read, the dialog has been criticized as being juvenile and predictable. I have spent the last few days listening closely to those around me and have come to the conclusion that there isn’t really that much original language. Most people seem to have communicative patterns, phrases that they repeat or words that they use often. People who are around each other tend to pick up on that language. My boyfriend Chris uses “Riight?!” all the time. When we were first dating, I thought I would go mad if I heard it one more time. Guess who also says it now? Keene picked language and phrases that fit the characters. For instance, there is a scene where the pimps are chasing Frankie through a zombie zoo (literally, all the animals are dead). Of course the pimps aren’t going to be yelling, “Wherefore art thou, o strumpet?” They’re going to be using regular old language from our current century, and befitting their status as pimps.
“The Rising” was very much in the pulp style. Using the definition at TheVintage Libarary, it is “entertainment for the masses”. That’s right people – it’s not meant to be used in a college class. The average reader is supposed to be able to pick up the novel and enjoy it – and that’s just what I did. If you’re looking for an deep and meaningful look at human nature in a time of stress, pass this book on. However, if you’re looking for a book that’s pure zombie-bashing fun, pick up Brian Keene’s “The Rising” today!
P.S. At the end of this book, I wound up yelling, “What?! You can’t end a book like that! That’s not fair!” (even though I had the sequel on the table next to me). Just be warned. It’s one of the most gut-wrenching endings I’ve read so far. It’s also the reason why I wait for multiple books to come out in a series before I read them.