Adult Fiction, Apocalypse, Dystopia, Horror, Science Fiction, Zombie

Review: Autumn by David Moody

Autumn chronicles the struggle of a small group of survivors forced to contend with a world torn apart by a deadly disease. After 99% of the population of the planet is killed in less than 24 hours, for the very few who have managed to stay alive, things are about to get much worse. Animated by “phase two” of some unknown contagion, the dead begin to rise. At first slow, blind, dumb and lumbering, quickly the bodies regain their most basic senses and abilities… sight, hearing, locomotion…

As well as the instinct toward aggression and violence. Held back only by the restraints of their rapidly decomposing flesh, the dead seem to have only one single goal – to lumber forth and destroy the sole remaining attraction in the silent, lifeless world: those who have survived the plague, who now find themselves outnumbered 1,000,000 to 1…

Without ever using the ‘Z’ word, Autumn offers a new perspective on the traditional zombie story. There’s no flesh eating, no fast-moving corpses, no gore for gore’s sake. Combining the atmosphere and tone of George Romero’s classic living dead films with the attitude and awareness of 28 Days (and Weeks) later, this horrifying and suspenseful novel is filled with relentless cold, dark fear.

5 stars

Adult Fiction | Science Fiction | Dystopian | Apocalyptic

Whew! As many of you know this past year has not been kind to me with reading motivation but when I say all I needed was a good zombie dystopian genius to pull me out, David Moody was the right amount. Being a huge fan of his Hater Series as well as some of his novella works, I was excited to finally go back and finish reading Autumn. I mean honestly, when the recommendations say ‘A bastard hybrid of War of the Worlds and Night of the Living Dead‘ how can you not want to see for yourself if it lives up to expectations.

Right at the jump, we are thrown into a couple of dynamics between three main characters at the start of pandemic. Carl, Emma, and Micheal. Carl is thrown into a morally grey encounter to race home only to find his wife and daughter dead, Emma stayed home sick for the day but finally goes out and watches people around her drop then buries herself under the safety of her covers, and lastly Micheal who was in the middle of a public service at a school only to watch as teenagers drop dead in a matter of minutes.

What I like most about the start of the character development is the reader is presented with three main individuals who are forced into coexistence for survival mode. Emotions are high, gritting fear and uncertainty while trying to understand the others personality enough to build some type of connection. How does the end of humanity result on the morals of human nature? And more importantly, are there more survivors? Surprise, there are. Not all though are sane, and some are the dead walking around.

Up ahead of them, a couple of hundred meters away at most, was a huge crows of bodies just as the girl had said. The early-morning gloom made if difficult to estimate how many of them were there. They stood their ground; a tightly packed, incalculable number of figures which seemed in the low light to have become a single solid dark shape.

David Moody | Autumn pg 80

So here we are, what is the world now? At the beginning there is a group of survivors that our trio is involved with, at first they are all soaking in the current state of the area. Then as human nature would react, everyone is trying to figure out the next steps all the while the dead bodies that littered the streets are starting to change. One by one, they get up, stagger around, eventually start to become more mobile, more coherent to the surroundings.

For me, what I liked more about this eerie scenario is that the suspense of the changes is what keeps you on the edge of the seat. The group inspects bodies, walk near them, even touches them at certain points and all the while the reader is just waiting for the moment when one reacts. Snatching a character to bite into their flesh. But it is a slow building, a slow yet crippling build. Obviously the inevitable does happen however the build getting to that point was beautifully structured, left the heart pounding with each encounter. Each time the group went out to collect supplies or inspected the area it was like my mind reeling at the possibilities of when someone would be a meal…

Oh man, and the times when the bodies grouped up. Oh my lanta, there were shakes. I physically shake reading the moments when the undead circled the van, the fence, oh gosh, the farm. Just… wow.

You can’t begin to imagine what this feels like… This is killing me. Every morning I wake up and I wish that it was over. Every single day the pain is worse than the last. I still can’t accept that they’ve gone and I just…

David Moody | Autumn pg 188

The entire novel was a constant change between the world building and the characters reactions towards it. Emma is trying to figure out what truly caused the pandemic, Carl is completely grief stricken while Michael, even in his arrogant blunt form is just trying to be the voice of reason. And honestly, I loved that the conversations between the characters was realistic. There are moments of reminiscing, collective thoughts on ‘what would you be doing now’ or thinking about what day it was. Then you have the anger, the heated conversations that starts to play out on how the characters are truly coping.

Once the trio established themselves in Penn Farm, there starts to become an unspoken routine between them. A feeling of safe yet this hovering gloom of terror waiting for it to be destroyed. I did feel a sort of foreshadowing with Carl, he was very much split on wanting to survive and wanting an excuse to stop. Then when he wanted to separate himself, go back to the community center in the city, my heart dropped. I can’t say too much without spoilers, but I just really liked how the three of them reacted so differently in the same situation, it developed so many volumes of what a true person would react when faced in this pandemic. Really played on my mind on the ‘what if’ this and that.

After a brief moment of awkwardness and reluctance they both began to cry freely. For the first time since they’d lost everything on that desperate autumn morning two weeks ago, they both finally dropped their guard. They cried for all they’d lost and left behind, they cried for their absent friend, and they cried for each other.

David Moody | Autumn pg 241

Bottom line, I needed this read. I enjoyed it beyond words. I was hooked the second I read the first page of prologue and instantly connected with the characters. I really enjoyed how the raw emotions of each character was well thought out to grip the reader. You felt their fear as they felt it, the uncertainty, the courage and the pain. Its beyond creepy and beautifully bleak.

I am excited to see what will come of Emma and Micheal. I found myself semi-rooting for a budding romance, which might come as a surprise to most with my love for romance books, but when it comes to horror genre, I much prefer the world building and gore of the plot rather than adding some forced relationship. But oh my lanta, watching their friendship develop has made me interested to see where this might lead for the two. Dare I say I have hope with that being said Moody does not kill them off…

Well we are off to Autumn: The City!

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