Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Review: Autumn

Interesting story behind Autumn by David Moody.  Apparently Moody, a fan of such books as War of the Worlds and movies like Night of the Living Dead, wanted to write his own horror novel but lacking any literary credentials couldn't get picked up by a publisher.  So, with the internet hitting its own (2003) he decided to give away the book for free.  A few hundred thousand downloads later, and he's sold the movie rights, started his own publishing house, and cranked out several sequels.  The movie came out in 2009--I may have to go check it out.

The story behind Autumn is that a (unrealistically) rapid, lethal virus kills off over 99% of the human population of the earth in what appears to be hours.  Now I'm no epidemiologist or a meteorologist, but I didn't think air currents could carry a germ that quickly.  But hey, I'm looking for good science from a zombie novel.  In an English town the handful of survivors first have to deal with the shock and collapse of civilization, followed by the revival of a fraction of the disease victims as zombies.

At first, the zombies aren't even dangerous--they are just wandering, mindless corpses, but later they start to home in on the living, and they significantly out number them.  There's no suggestion of contagious bite/kill stuff at play here, the zombies just seem to want to destroy anything that lives or more specifically makes noise.

The main characters are three survivors and most of the plot revolves around their group dynamic (what with the zombies not being threatening until almost halfway through the book).  The story also has the usual zombie fare: the grocery store pillaging, the crazy guy lifted straight out of the movie Psycho with the zombie family member (the same guy appeared in Dead Reckoning too), etc.  I also noticed that the main trio also closely resembled the central three characters from the movie Shallow Grave, including having one of them go up into the attic and spy on the others.

It's clear by the time you get to the end of the book that the author wanted to leverage this into something more.  There's no real ending, not even a cliffhanger.  The story just stops, awaiting the next novel in the series.  What's more, the characters are more interesting in the beginning of the story but sort of fritter away in terms of personality.  By the end they are just generic individuals working towards survival.  [SPOILER FOLLOWS]

What's worse, the most interesting character doesn't even make it to the end, and even that is foreshadowed so heavily it isn't much of an event.  I can't figure out if I want to give Autumn: the City a try just to see if the author starts to get into the good stuff (stuff that maybe he didn't want to give away for free) or just let this series go.  We'll see.


  1. A friend of mine claims that the movie is well worth the watch... must track it down.

  2. I enjoyed the book, not necesserily because it is great - right book, right time perhaps? I liked the fact that they really were all quite ordinary. Others I recommended it to (non zombie people) enjoyed it a lot too. I've seen the film and I'm not so keen on it. Willing to give The City a try at some point though.