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John is a mid-level functionary at some company or other, sitting in a meeting at the head office in Manhattan. Suddenly everybody gets an alert text to the effect of "Stay in your homes! The dead are coming back to life!"
Of course everybody cracks up laughing and the meeting goes on. But when it ends, reality barges in--the alert text wasn't lying. Worse, John's wife is about to give birth down in Georgia: 900 miles away. He has to get back there. John and his tough new friend, former soldier Kyle, are facing a lot of clogged roads, bandits, and of course there's that whole zombie problem. Will they make it in time?
If this sounds like a "road story," that's what it is--a road trip movie in book form. John and Kyle get into and out of trouble as they go on any way they can, siphoning gas, meeting some new people, and making stops that, in hindsight, were probably not such a hot idea.
Fans of this genre will probably recognize most of the mise en scene from elsewhere--but so what? First-time novelist Davis keeps the story going, with plenty of hand-to-hand combat and close calls. 900 Miles is imaginative without being over-the-top. And it's not too depressing, either, thanks to protagonist John's grimly humorous outlook.
One issue--in terms of the actual writing, Davis is hardly Henry James or T.S. Eliot. But again, so what? For me, the story's movement made up for any grammar problems. Besides, this is a zombie novel; when I want something literary, I'll go shop in the literary fiction section.
Narrator Jamison Jones does a competent job; I could tell he was as interested in what was going to happen next as I was. Overall, a fun ride and definitely worth a credit. Looking forward to the next installment in this series!
12 of 13 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
as the story opens, john is in a meeting in nyc when he and everybody else get a text message that the dead have come back to life and have started eating the living. at first, everybody thinks it's a prank, but as they turn on the t.v., the news reports otherwise. john's group is trapped in an office building with only a thin pane of glass between them and the street. utterly paralyzed, they watch others in a similar situation while planning their escape.
in the lobby, john meets kyle. he's the security guard. kyle is an iraqi war vet who flew choppers. as they all search for weapons, the only things they come across is a broom stick and a potted plant. their only saving grace is that they haven't been noticed yet, but that quickly changes as their boss, now a zombie, heads back to where they are. he attracts the attention of the other zombies, and together, their pressure eventually causes the plane of glass to shatter. as the glass tinkles to the ground, all hell breaks lose, and it's every man for himself!
the beginning of the story really caught me. the narrator's voice and the dialogue immediately engrossed me. the narrator's voice perfectly matches john's character. the writing was funny yet action packed. after the first 15 minutes, i was totally engrossed.
one guy emerged from the crowd with a slightly raised voice. he was bald with a cul-de-sac cut. the kind where he kept the hair on the side of his head instead of shaving the whole thing, creating a perfect half circle of baldness on top. i'd seen him around the building. he's either a ceo or acting branch manager. he was in charge of his own little world before this. real alpha male type, and he was sure he had all the right answers. mr. cul-de-sac kept rattling on about how the waterfront was only 4 blocks away and that we could get a boat and get past the crowds in the city no problem.
humor, zombies, and gore...yeah, i was into this story! i also liked the aspect that john and kyle had to do a lot of hand to hand fighting with the zombies. that fighting was pretty realistic b/c neither was particularly adept at it. they had to learn quick. i also enjoyed the story b/c neither was a survivalist with a bunker full of food and guns. i've listened to quite a few of those stories so i found this one refreshing.
john's goal is to get back to his pregnant wife 900 miles away. kyle decides to join him on his journey b/c they're headed the same way. kyle has a few friends at a base in augusta, ga so they band together to try to escape nyc.
along the way, they rescue michael from a helicopter crash. michael tells them he's heading for a place called avalon in the blue ridge mountains.
i really enjoyed listening to this zombie novel. it was full of humor yet still maintained tension throughout. the narration is excellent. it makes the story. the is a WTF cliffhanger ending, and i had to see if there is a second book coming out. the ending reminded me of the ending of the movie, inception, where you can interpret what happens next.
overall, a fun zombie book i recommend!
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
What would have made 900 Miles better?
More thought and input from test readers. Some of the situations in this book are just not believable, and if situations frustrate me as a reader I quickly go off the book.
Also, more and clear detail on the characters would have helped. I didn't buy the Kyle character because he is supposed to have seen action as some kind of infantry and as a helicopter pilot. But we get no details on how this was possible and what units he served with for this to happen. Overall I found the characters a little flat, and Kyle not showing himself to have had military training on multiple occasions.
What was most disappointing about S. Johnathan Davis’s story?
Plenty of situations sadly. Everything that happened in the town with the siren was just ridiculous, or at least badly written. Are we to believe two men stayed pinned down by a woman in a bathing suit, armed with a deadly cigarette? And then when three armed men join her they apparently could escape with ease if they wanted to do so.
Then a little later how they deal with the woman inside the house - or rather how they don't deal with her - is just not likely. Certainly if Kyle is supposed to be military.
I also found Avalon to be a total farce. If anything all I got from it was that the author might have issues with the 1% elites in his country and used the book as a weapon. Society may well collapse and people may go nuts in any post-apocalyptic world, but a whole bunch of wealthy elite acting like this only a few days after the fall, when most of them would not have seen any hardship at all so far, just didn't come over as likely at all.
What about Jamison Jones’s performance did you like?
The narrator was pretty good. A little overly eager and dramatic at times, but largely gave the scenes the right feel and he seemed into the story himself, which helps.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Frustration mostly. The book could have been better if the author had put more thought into the scenes. Most of them could have worked if he had looked at it again with thought to how people would act in those situations, and how someone with military training would also. For example the fight by the pool. Kyle's actions after the fight would have been different if he had military training. IE he would strip weapons and secure their location from threats before worrying about Michael.
Any additional comments?
This book could have been good, but for me the unending flaws in the scenes just annoyed me. I mean really these two guys are going on a 900 mile road trip though zombie infested America and not once do they think to maybe check out airfields for a helicopter? Plenty of small fields that would be far less risky than towns or even the roads.
Really enjoyed this, great story, great narration.
Looking forward to 900 minutes, 900 miles follow on.
Four more words!! Four