The Rising – Brian Keene

A gory, fun and bloody must-read for horror and zombie fans!

The first zombie novel I ever read was in the mid-noughties when I stumbled across the fab Brain Keene novel, The Rising (which I know is not to everyone’s taste, but I love it, so there!). I’ve read a lot of zombie novels over the years, I’ve even taken the plunge and am writing one myself! But, The Rising is still one of my favourites and I reread it regularly.

Fun Facts – The Rising won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel back in 2003. An authors’ preferred version was later published, which restored nearly 30,000 words of material that was cut from the original edition. City of the Dead – a sequel to The Rising was published in 2005.

Things you should know before reading The Rising …

You’re going to need more than the average suspension of disbelief. These Zombies are not your traditional shuffling, Walking Dead type creatures. They are in fact zombies by way of demonic possession.

When a Large Hadron Collider type experiment opens up a portal to another realm, it allows demons called Siquissim through to reanimate and possess the dead. In some ways this is traditional zombie fare – The possessed corpses still rot, hunger for flesh and the only way to put them down is a shot to the head. However… led by chief demon Ob, these zombies are sentient and cunning, they can speak, set traps and wisecrack.

Also, it turns out that in the Keene version of the Zombie Apocalypse, it’s not just humans who are infected but also the surrounding wildlife. Think zombie rats, flocks of ravenous birds and in one memorable scene a zombie goldfish.

Still with me?

Overall the plot is pretty straightforward. It starts out with Jim Thurmond, a construction worker living in West Virginia. Jim is hiding out in an underground bunker, which was constructed because of the Y2K panic (remember that?). Surrounded by the undead, he has become trapped.

His supplies dwindling, Jim spends his time contemplating suicide and worrying about his young son Danny, who lives with his ex-wife in New Jersey, and who he has been unable to contact. He finally receives a message from Danny, who is still alive and hiding in his mother’s attic. Then the phone batteries die for good.

Jim escapes from the shelter and heads out into a Post-apocalyptic landscape overrun by undead hordes, determined to find and rescue his son before it is too late. On the way, he meets an assortment of characters, including a preacher, recovering heroin addict, Frankie, and the thoroughly evil Colonel Schow and his group of renegade mercenaries.

Honestly, what’s not to like! Sure, it’s a bit silly, but as long as you don’t take it too seriously (and you’re willing to accept zombie goldfish) then The Rising is a gory, fun and bloody must-read for horror and zombie fans!

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