Friday, November 16, 2012

Zombiestan - Book Review


Zombiestan by Mainak Dhar

Title: Zombiestan
Author: Mainak Dhar
Publisher: Duckbill
Pages: 256

Buy Zombiestan


If you thought you've had enough with Vampires, now make way for Zombies. Mainak Dhar takes you through a journey that starts with a village in Afghanistan, which houses the Taliban. Hell breaks loose when the Taliban leader Mullah Omar is shot dead by unknown forces. This is followed by an apocalyptic blast which causes genetic mutations thus causing people in the area to turn into Zombies.

This phenomenon nicknamed Afghan Flu spreads like wildfire across the globe and in a matter of three days close 50,000 people are affected. Doctors identify fatal levels of radiations and toxins in the blood samples of infected victims. To make things worse; Governments topple, anarchy thrives, the undead or the zombies are everywhere and mayhem ensues.

The story revolves around five unlikely people who meet each other in the worst circumstances in New Delhi. A US Navy SEAL trying to get back home, a seventeen year old boy grappling with the loss of his parents, an elderly History Professor, a young girl and her three year old brother.

As soon as the sun set every day, hordes of Afghan Flu victims went on rampage biting anybody in their line of sight and thus infecting them. These people died only to come alive as undead in evenings. The terror was too real to be palpable. The tribe of zombies only seemed to increase manifold with no end in sight.

Amidst this, the five of them seem to be fighting a lone war against the zombies. They move from one place to another in search of a safe haven where the zombies cannot attack them.  They try to protect themselves against the zombies using firearms, only to realize that nothing can actually kill them. Even striking them on their heads could bring them down for a couple of minutes after which they bounced back.

Every night was a fight against the Zombies and during one of their narrow escapes, Abhi is bitten. They don’t realize it until the next morning. When Abhi doesn’t turn into one a zombie, it takes them by surprise. They don’t have the heart to leave the little one along.

They were fighting for what seemed to be a lost cause, until they meet a retired Army officer who gives them shelter and that’s when they receive a radio broadcast which informs them of a safe place in Ladakh. The five of them, then embark on an arduous journey to safe guard themselves.

Around the same time, the Zombies start evolving at a rapid pace; they learn to group themselves, use firearms and also write. Humans are incapacitated even more, rendering themselves pretty useless against the zombies. Abhi is now hailed at the Miracle Boy; the boy who survived the bite and dint turn into a zombie. He is the proverbial ray of hope to the survivors and the zombies want him.

Whether they survive the zombie attack, win over the zombies or succumb to the miseries is the rest of the story.

The book is a real page turner, as every page holds a surprise. The write is very crisp and taut. There are a few loose edges here and there; there is no clear description about what triggered the chemical blast and how the zombies evolved over time.  But the rest of the plot is really good.

It not only talks about testing times of the protagonists but also brings about the best in them. The characterization of each of them is noteworthy.

On the whole, the book is worth a read, and I would definitely recommend it!

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