This week’s picks cover some odd, grim, gross themes and might be considered a bit horror-esque in style. Some have new perspectives on well-worn subjects (political thrillers in Pleasantville, love and relationships in New World, this time involving decapitation and cryogenics – of all things!) Some take old tropes and give them a modern spin (zombies in Positive and serial killers in Normal ). All sound very good – reserve away!
Normal follows a serial killer, who is nameless, as he comes to grips with his humanity. (Obviously Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter springs to mind). The killer has all the hall marks of a serial killer – abandoned by his mother, bad childhood and the need to stalk and kill young women. He keeps them captive in his basement and where he is holding his latest victim Erica. This is a black comedy so don’t get too worried about the grimness of it! Whilst out buying food for Erica, the killer finds himself captivated by and then infatuated with the checkout operator. He then ends up saving his next intended victim from being raped and helps out a prostitute. Unfortunately this new found kindness comes to a calamitous end involving Erica and the police. “In a big departure from the standard serial killer trope, he begins nonpredatory relationships with three different women. He even falls in love with one of them. Those who have no trouble accepting a humanized serial killer will be most satisfied” (Publishers Weekly).
This is about Finn, a young man who is a second generation survivor of a zombie apocalypse – an epidemic that wiped out most of the population, turning them into zombies. Finn is marked positive, which is a sign that he carries the disease, and is therefore exiled form the city into the wild lands beyond. The story is about Finn’s survival beyond the city and his struggle with the violence of humanity, rather than just the zombies. It has been well reviewed and is much more complex than Wellington’s other zombie novels. Says Publishers Weekly “If John Wyndham had written a zombie novel, it might very well have resembled Wellington’s clever apocalyptic thriller”.
The Dead Lands
This one is also post-apocalyptic, set one hundred years plus after a super flu and nuclear fallout have wiped out most of the world. It’s a thriller about a group of remaining surviors, living in a sheltered community, who are encouraged by a stranger from the outside world to set off across America for better land. (It’s been called a Lewis and Clark saga). Library Journal says it best “Percy’s outing is not only a compelling postapocalyptic adventure populated by fascinating characters but a clever riff on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Fans of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker, and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven will embrace this literary vision of humanity’s first steps back up the ladder of civilization after near-extinction disasters”.