Friday, June 26, 2015

An epidemic on Long island

Q Island

By Russell James


Publication: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. 

Pub. Date: July 7, 2015

Rating: 4 out 0r 5 stars

Q Island is a novel about an epidemic. It is not a zombie novel. I wanted to make that clear at the beginning because the virus that is taking over Long island in Russell James’ intelligent and exciting novel does develop zombie-like traits in the unfortunate people that get it. One stage of the disease gives its victim an insane style of rage that take over and, like zombies, inflicted injury on others just make more victims. To this reader, that is slightly unfortunate because it is not the “zombie” that is the center of the story. It is the reactions of those bought together for good or bad by the plague that moves it along so effortlessly and memorably. The ability to get beyond the zombie formula and look at the people who struggle through or exploit the catastrophe is the strength of the book. Q Island is part horror, part thriller and part disaster novel. All parts are equal and high quality. In other words, Q Island is a treat to read and an on-the-edge-of-your-seat experience.

Once the epidemic is raging, the author focuses on mainly three main protagonists. Dr. Samuel Bradshaw is the one who first experiences the unfortunate people who get the disease. He is tempting to find a cure but discovers other dubious things going on. Melanie Bailey and her autistic son are trapped on Long Island, where the government has isolated the virus and quarantined the population. She has a reason to risk escaping from the island. And lastly, Jimmy Wade is a petty criminal who discovers the virus affects him differently and uses the unique effects to wage his own kind of evil. The author follows each character separately and merges them into the rest of the big picture of the inhabitants of Long Island suffering the deadly and seemingly unstoppable plague.

One of the joys in the novel early on is when James describes how the virus originates. I am not going to say what it is, even though you learn in the first two chapters, because it is so clever and imaginative I want you to experience it for yourself. But what it does reveal is that the author is not a run of the mill formula writer. Q Island is full of little twists that sets it apart from the pack of usual apocalypse/zombie/virus clones out there. If the authors throw out an unexplained far-fetched effect that seem a bit out of place, I can forgive it because it moves along a story that is tight to begin with. Couple that with some nicely written and continuously developing characterizations and you have a winner.

So what we have is a novel that involves and entertains with a high dose of horror and thrills but doesn’t talk down to the readers. It is a welcome change from the mainstream drivel yet reads easily and moves fast. In other words, it is a good summer read for the discerning reader. This book warrants an enthusiastic recommendation but also a warning. Protective body suits are not included. You will feel so much in the action, you might think you need one.

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