Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Monster Island

MonsterMonster Island by David Wellington

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Ah, zombies.  They’re a mainstay of the horror genre, and the different interpretations of the mythology of zombies makes for some interesting reading.   It’s been a while since I’ve read a zombie novel (I believe Philip Nutman’s Wet Work was the last one, and I read it when it was released), but I was prepared for it, having just seen 28 Weeks Later.

In retrospect, it may not have been in the book’s favor for me to have seen the movie so close to starting the book.  A lot of the visual imagery of the movie stayed with me as I was reading the work, and it didn’t match all that well.  This isn’t the fault of the author, by any means, but it did make some of the faults with the novel stand out.  It’s a little choppy, and jumps around a bit between the central elements of the plot, but seeing as this was written as a serial novel (the author originally released the novel chapter-by-chapter through his website), that may have more to do with the method of publication than with the writer’s style.

I admire Wellington’s approach to the zombie mythology.  Specifically, he keeps the standard “rules” of zombies, in that they’re dead, they hunger, and being bitten by a zombie will pass the curse along to the bitten person.  He adds a new element by including a smart zombie (an ex-doctor who understands how to prevent brain death during his own demise) and an otherworldly personality to interfere with the main story.  With most new zombie stories trying to make the background new and fresh, it’s actually refreshing to read a novel that tries to stick with the traditional origins.

The author works for the UN, and he incorporates some of his experience there as part of the novel.  This gives the novel a thematic element of the “one world” approach falling apart as the zombification of the planet begins, isolating the remaining survivors into small communities, cut off from one another.  He makes Somalia the strongest outpost of humanity, and makes the ruler of that community a woman with AIDS.  She supports the women of her old country, making them her army, and in order for the main character to be accepted into her community, he must return to the US and retrieve the drugs that will keep her alive.  It’s an interesting starting point for the novel, and cements the story firmly in our world.

Towards the end of the novel, I started to find a lot of the development a little laughable.  The story maintained its grip on me, and there was no doubt that I was going to finish it, but things became a little weird near the climax.  I think the story probably ended the only way that it could, and definitely set the story up for sequels (Monster Nation and Monster Planet, already published).  I’m interested in finishing the series and seeing where the author will take it.

Monster Island is an entertaining piece of fiction, and would be worth any horror aficionado’s time, especially if he were into zombies.  It’s gripping, well-told, and creative, and all that will definitely overcome a little weirdness at the end of the book.

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June 1, 2007 - Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews

1 Comment »

  1. While it stayed with a lot of historically standard ideas, it had a lot of new, interesting ideas. Some worked, some didn’t. But I really appreciated the freshness of them.

    Yes, the end got a little messy, but it was still good fun and borderline unputdownable. I expect I’ll eventually read the sequels, once my pile is out of the way.

    Comment by agnespoodle | August 16, 2007 | Reply


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