Monster Planet: A Zombie Novel (book 3) by David Wellington (book review).

Monster Planet’ is the third book of a zombie trilogy. The first, ‘Monster Island’ was set in New York and told the story of De Kaalb, a United Nations worker who travelled from Somalia with a team of soldiers after the zombie epidemic to find some medicines for HIV. He left his daughter, Sarah, behind. In New York, he encountered zombies with magic powers, a deranged old Druid and Egyptian mummies risen from the museum. The second book, ‘Monster Nation’, was set in the western United States and told the zombie pandemic story from another angle.

Monster Planet’ features elements from both the first books so it would be better to read them first. It opens in the middle east, Egypt, and the point of view characters are Sarah, De Kaalb’s daughter, and Ayaan, a soldier who went with him to New York and got back home. Now she is the leader of a small group just about surviving. Twelve years have passed since the events of ‘Monster Island’ and Ayaan effectively raised Sarah. So when Ayaan is kidnapped by a strange new messiah and his fanatical followers, Sarah is determined to rescue her mentor or kill her if she has become a zombie.

The new messiah with a plan for the world is the Tsarevich, a Russian boy who had been kept alive for years in a semi-comatose state when the Epidemic occurred and so had an oxygen supply. It’s already established that 99.9% of zombies are stupid. They revive shortly after death but the brain is starved of oxygen for several minutes so they become dumb brutes desperately hungry for flesh. However, anyone who somehow had an oxygen supply while dead kept their intelligence. Not only that, they can develop certain powers as well, which vary from zombie to zombie.

Such creatures are known as liches. The Tsarevich is very powerful himself but also has a team of these liches to aid him. One looks like a werewolf. Another can speed up or slow down the metabolism of others thus enabling zombies to whiz about like the Flash or enemies to lapse into sleep. One develops the ability to fire bolts of energy from her hands. There is a strong comicbook vibe to the whole scenario: X-Men zombies!

The author writes well in efficient prose that makes everything clear. The point of view switches between Ayaan, a valuable prisoner of the Tsarevich as he pursues his plans, and Sarah, chasing the enemy to rescue the woman who raised her. Both are strong, likeable characters. The villains and, there are several, are evil enough to inspire loathing and nearly all the main characters have some sort of superpower.

The story proceeds in a series of crises and cliff-hanger endings with plenty of action and adventure. Reading it, I kept thinking that it was all a bit silly but also good, gory fun and I wanted to see how it turned out. The first two books in the series gave me the same feeling. I enjoyed the trilogy as a guilty pleasure, like a B-movie you watch late on a Friday night after a little too much beer. But I did enjoy it. You might, too.

Eamonn Murphy

November 2022

(pub: Thunder’s Mouth Press. 302 page enlarged paperback. Price: $13.95 (US). ISBN: 1-56025-867-4) Also available as a digital copy.

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