A motley band of misfits must defeat an ancient, deadly foe in Campbell’s debut sci-fi/horror novel.
In a near future in which citizens have identity chips and the wealthy live in gated cities, a virus breaks out in four locations: a Russian military base, a U.S. Army post in Alaska, a Mongolian temple, and the White House. No one knows if the president and vice president of the United States are still alive, and no one knows how to defeat strange creatures that are appearing at each of the outbreak sites. These armies of half-dead soldiers and other mutants turn out to be protecting something even more horrifying—and it’s breeding. Dr. Julian Weaver possesses ancient documents that show that similar events may have happened thousands of years ago. With the help of a group of billionaires, he organizes an unlikely team to try to capture the monsters, including Cryboy, an anti-social hacker; Helga, a Russian strongwoman; Jester, a mentally unstable loner; Jodie, a woman with “exceptional shooting skills”; and Curtis, an anthropologist who may have the power to protect people from the creatures’ hypnotic effects. However, the team has little information and even less preparation time—and they may encounter more than they bargained for. The premise of a mismatched band of misfits trying to save the world may sound predictable. However, Campbell’s unique characters and vivid prose style will immediately draw readers into the story. It’s a fast-paced thriller with just enough horrifying notes to leave readers scared but wanting more. That said, the story falters when the characters venture too far into the realm of cliché; Jester, for example, is sometimes too cool to believe, and Curtis is often relegated to the role of shaman. Jodie, as the “normal” member of the team, is too often a frustrated bystander as the men take part in the action. Nevertheless, Campbell’s confident prose makes up for these minor deficiencies and carries the story through to a satisfying conclusion.
An often refreshing tale that will thrill, horrify, and amuse in equal measure.