A young survivor of the zombie pandemic finds himself thrust outside the comfort and safety of post-apocalyptic Manhattan and into the wastelands of America in this coming-of-age novel from Wellington (The Hydra Protocol, 2014, etc.)
Nineteen-year-old Finnegan has been living what’s left of the good life in what’s left of Manhattan, protected from the occasional zombie living in the outer boroughs by polluted rivers and the lack of transportation in post-crisis America. He’s grown up, with no memory of the pandemic, in a survivor’s settlement in Times Square, raised by his parents, fishing in the old subway tunnels and scavenging food from abandoned apartments, listening to the radio for reports from the Army and the bits of the old government that are still viable. That is, until the day his mother turns into a zombie, a result of the virus’s 20-year gestation period. Finn is now suspected of harboring the virus as well. He’s given a plus-sign tattoo—proof of his positive status—and a ride to a medical camp in Ohio. But when he finds his government-issued driver murdered at the far end of the George Washington Bridge, Finn has to set out on his own. He quickly makes an enemy of a looter named Red Kate and just as quickly makes friends with a survivor named Adare, a big man with a big car and a harem of young girls he uses both for sex and for looting abandoned buildings for swag to trade to the Army for gas and food. Among the harem is Kylie, a teen girl whose deadened personality Finn somehow finds irresistible. Finn’s halfhearted attempts at rabble-rousing to free Kylie and her sisters ends badly for Adare and—when the ragtag group of misfits ends up at the Akron medical camps at last—for the girls as well. All except Kylie, of course. Finn’s principled attempts at an old-fashioned strike are laughable at best. (“My life was less important than what was happening here. Than what could happen, if the cards played out right,” Finn says, nobly.) In Akron he’s reunited with his old Manhattan buddy Ike (the kid who killed Finn’s mother when she zombied out) when Ike helps the positives break out of camp, and Finn and Kylie lead him and the rest into the brave new world they’ll make together—if they can survive Red Kate and the deadly warload named Anubis.
Lacking the storytelling virtuosity of World War Z or the emotional impact of The Passage, the novel suffers from a woefully underdeveloped and naïve hero, a love story without an ounce of heat, and a carload of ancient zombie tropes just begging to be put out of their misery.