In this debut sci-fi thriller, two English brothers encounter a desolate New York City littered with corpses and teeming with crazed killers.
Manchester, England, natives Harry and Jack cut their New York sightseeing plans short when their plane lands in the apparently abandoned John F. Kennedy International Airport. The brothers, along with fellow passenger Bernie and his wife, Linda, volunteer to check the terminal, where they discover multiple corpses. Soon, a group of seemingly demented people tries to kill them. Several of the attackers—the brothers simply call them “killers”—appear to have turned against one another before the plane’s arrival. Soon the brothers and their allies are on the hunt for more survivors and for information about a possible global catastrophe. The Wearmouths’ vision of an apocalyptic New York is, at least initially, standard fare: large, deserted areas; piles of dead bodies; and main characters with no clue about what’s happening. However, the authors’ ingenuity soon separates their story from the rest of the pack, as it features enemies who aren’t as easy to spot as infected zombies—which makes it impossible for the heroes to trust even an elderly woman. The killers also have the intriguing ability to manipulate potential victims into traps. As the story progresses, the brothers meet other survivors, such as Lea—who, in a clever use of modern communication, initially communicates with Jack via Twitter—and they also lose some companions. The story eventually hits a relative standstill, however, once the group holes up in the city. Readers learn little about the characters or their situations; instead, the heroes simply fight more killers, until they finally opt for a more isolated shelter. The book’s final act delivers the goods, however, explaining the reasons for the killers’ bizarre behavior and why the airplane’s passengers and crew were unaffected. Harry and Jack’s nationality gives the book a distinctive British flair—they often call people “mates,” for example—but it sometimes bleeds too much into the rest of the narrative, as when American characters refer to a cell phone as a “mobile.” The coda provides a fitting denouement, and leaves the ending open to readers’ interpretations.
An often engaging thriller that transcends its standard post-apocalyptic setup.