In Soares’ apocalyptic-thriller trilogy (including his debut novel and two sequels), the survivors of a worldwide plague search for a rumored utopia and struggle to distribute what may be a cure.
The story starts in 2013, when many people diagnosed with leprosy are found to have rabies simultaneously—a lethal, contagious sickness designated RL2013, or simply “the disease.” The afflicted become milky-eyed crazies that bite and infect anyone they can. Ten years later, major cities have built walls to keep the infected out, while strict laws ensure that everyone and everything inside the city is consistently sterilized. The narrator, a former doctor whose name is never provided, and his new lady friend, Rosalinda, escape the confinement of the walls of Washington, D.C., for the Oasis, a safe place supposedly free of government rule, which Rosa believes is in South Carolina. The couple eventually finds others who may have found a cure—one that Rosa, a microbiologist, might be able to cultivate. But this is an onerous task indeed in a world overrun by zombies. This collection isn’t as expansive or epic as readers may expect; it sensibly tells its tale from one perspective, that of the nameless narrator, in a cohesive story split into three novella-length parts, each with a straightforward goal: find Oasis; find hope; and find a way to save the world. There are very few characters overall, considering the story’s scope, so the ones that stick around, such as Rosa; Celia, a 20-year-old girl whom the narrator sees as a daughter; and the narrator’s canine sidekick, Addy, form meaningful emotional bonds with the protagonist. Soares can’t entirely avoid apocalyptic-story clichés, as the genre almost requires that characters scour abandoned cars for gasoline, stake claims on homes or properties and refuse others access, or regress into animalistic behavior. However, he does dish out plenty of genuine surprises throughout the novel, and even the most avid zombie fan won’t anticipate them all. The first two novels end with cliffhangers, but the final installment offers a solid resolution.
Genre fans will find what they’re looking for, but the centralized plot and unwavering narrator may attract readers of all types.