- Richard Haywood
Dead vs Alive by Bill Ball
Review by Jodie Haggerty
Dead vs Alive: Game on is the debut solo novel from Bill Ball, set during the early days of a zombie outbreak and tells the story of the military response.
I’ve read countless zompoc books where either the military fall in the first day or two or there is no mention of them at all, that’s not the case here. The cause of the virus is explained early on so the reader isn’t left guessing. It’s a combination of these two factors that made me feel like I was getting something a bit new and different than others in the genre.
The author himself does have a military background and this enhances the story significantly and makes it very believable. Whilst the initial chapters may be a little tough going for a civvy, bear with it because you’ll soon becoming familiar with the terminology and this improves the flow.
Non military characters are introduced throughout, which is important as it adds a slightly more human angle to the tale, without these there would be the risk of the story not appealing to the masses.
In summary I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for their next book to read. My reason for the 4 star (rather than 5) is twofold:
1. I’d have liked to see a little more zombie action, there is enough to keep zompoc fans happy but I never really felt afraid for any of the main characters. 2. The book ended a little too abruptly, there was no real end to this part of the story and whilst it is lined up nicely for a sequel I was left felling a little flat. However I have definitely been left wanting more, which I expect is a good result for any author
I’ll definitely be reading Dead vs Alive: All In, the next in the series when it comes out, hopefully by the end of the year.
Review by Simon Philip
We, the reviewers for this site, were contacted by the author who offered us the opportunity to review his first self-published novel set in the zombie genre. We were given a copy of the book to review, which we accepted in order to give an unbiased review.
This book is the first volume with the next currently being written; Dead Vs Alive: All In and is available to buy on Amazon.
Warning: may contain spoilers!!
A breakthrough in pharmaceuticals based on a parasitic ant fungus has led to the creation of a new medication for traumatic injuries to the brain and other motor neurone illnesses that has been widely tested with, initially, no nasty side-effects – barring the odd tendency to wake up outside facing the sun in the morning and a strong dislike of water, although this soon changes, and not for the better! The plotline of medication that causes zombification may seem familiar to anyone that has read or seen…well, pretty much any recent zombie fiction (including the Girl with all the Gifts which has a similar premise) but the author gives it a twist by focussing on what are typically the bad guys in this scenario; the US military, in the form of the National Guard and set in America’s mid-west rather than the more usual New York or LA.
It is easy to see the authors extensive military background in Dead Vs Alive. There are detailed, albeit sometimes painfully so, descriptions of weapons, vehicles, ranks and tactics (with helpful explanations) throughout the book from the first page which definitely adds verisimilitude to the story, although it can occasionally get bogged down in the minutiae of it all. The characters are well written, with an easy, flowing prose that made it a fairly enjoyable read. The descriptions of the fights and the level of gore are very well done and give it an almost cinematic feel, as does the scenery of Michigan.
The book was relatively short but I think it suited the story as there was no extraneous filling to the story and I believe the author has a great career ahead of him and would recommend reading the book.