One of the pleasures of a having job where you’re tasked with reading pretty much everything that crosses your desk is that you develop an eclectic appreciation of good writing. And while I might lean towards the literary in my personal tastes, it’s always a blast to see a genre writer operating at top form.
That’s by way of saying this is one fantastic zombie road novel.
Wellington has been doing good genre work for a while. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and genetically modified super killers are all part of his tool kit. In this new take on the zombie apocalypse, infection involves a potentially years-long incubation period. So what’s left of society lives in walled enclaves and the bitten are tattooed “positive” then moved to internment camps. When our teen hero Finn is infected and misses his ride to the government camp, he’s abandoned outside the walls of the city in a landscape where the human outcasts are at least as dangerous as the zombies.
And thus we get the set up for an inventive, action-packed, coming-of-age road story. Neither as ponderous as The Passage nor as dark as The Strain, fans of the genre will welcome this inventive, original take on a classic genre story. Hopefully, two starred advance reviews prefigure some serious review attention at on sale; this guy’s ready for his break out.
“Like The Walking Dead, the book uses the zombie apocalypse as a backdrop for a gripping story about the shattering of human society—the real villains here aren’t the zombies but rather the road pirates, looters, religious cultists, and other groups that have sprung up in the 20 years since the ‘crisis.’ Wellington’s most ambitious book is also his best, written with a maturity and compassion indicative of a writer who’s found the story he was made to tell. Zombie groupies will eat this one up, but it should also be recommended to readers of all epic-scale fantasy.”
— Booklist (starred review)
If John Wyndham had written a zombie novel, it might very well have resembled Wellington’s clever apocalyptic thriller….Finn’s personal growth is plausible as he grapples with the ethics of survival, and the story displays an imagination familiar to fans of Wellington’s Chimera.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Born after the epidemic that created the zombie outbreak, 19-year-old Finn grew up in the walled city of New York, listening to his parents’ stories of life before the apocalypse. Despite every precaution, the zombie infection can incubate for years and sometimes people still turn. One day Finn’s mother does just that. Finn is then declared a “positive,” tattooed and exiled from New York. He is forced to make his way in the lawless places beyond the city’s walls, facing looters, government forces trying to round up positives, and the ruthless members of a growing death cult…. Finn’s journey has an epic scale that seems destined for movie screens.”
— Library Journal (starred review)
Positive (9780062315373) by David Wellington. $26.99 hardcover. 4/21/15 on sale.