Postcards From a Dying World
News, views, book reviews and commentary from the Science Fiction and Horror fiction underground. Home of the Wonderland award nominated author of Vegan Revolution...With Zombies and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Book Review + Author interview: Feral By James DeMonaco & BK Evenson
Feral by James Demonaco, BK Evenson
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 2017 by Anchor Books
This was interesting book and project. Anyone who has followed my reviews over the years should be aware that Brian Evenson (writing here under the very crafty pen name BK) is one of my favorite authors. Pretty much anything he is involved in I want to read. that was the selling point for me. Evenson is one of the best writers working today who is considered high literature even though his work is certainly horror and at times Science Fiction. Respected by genre fans and shelved in high literature in powell's city of books Evenson is a unique voice in modern fiction. The BK pen has been used for more commercial projects like media tie-ins although this is the first time a BK Evenson book has been connected to an original project.
Co-written with James Demonaco who is known for the Purge movies, I think most readers will come to this book through his work. I hope they will progress to check out Evenson's Immobility or Last Days. I have to admit I have not seen the Purge movies, I will try now to get to them. I do respect his script for the Negotiator which I think is a underrated action drama.
Feral has several times in reviews been called a zombie novel, and in many senses it is. It hits all the tropes and standard plot points that make Zombie fans feel comfortable. For me I think Feral is more in my favorite kinda of sub-genre of horror. What I call the high concept Apocalypse. Notables in this genre are diverse with some of my favorites being John Shirley's Demons about corporations using environmental disasters to raise demons or Tim Lebbon's The Silence about blind monsters who hunt by sound. Feral is about a epidemic that turns men into raging monsters.
The reality is you can't just do zombies anymore. You have to have a interesting take. In my satire The Vegan Revolution...With Zombies I connected it food issues and mocked of the "with Zombie" literature movement. MR Carey is perhaps the best example with last year's "The Girl With All the Gifts" which is better off not spoiled. It had a totally different take.
The concept sets up a battle of the sexes apocalypse that I admit was not fully explored to the full potential that this novel could have. That is not to say that I didn't like it, I did. This is a short no-nonsense horror novel. It doesn't beat you over the head with concept or message. That might seem like a positive but I actually think this needs more exploration of those issues certainly would have helped the novel stand out.
The novel has a interesting prologue that subtly points to how teen age boys treat young women. It marks a shift in the main character when we shoot ahead three years. The Point of view shifts in the novel several times but the main character was Allie, a woman who takes nicely to the Apocalypse, she knows how to shoot, and track, and becomes know for grabbing Ferals to study. Her camp has one of the scientists who worked at the research facility. At the same time the Ferals numbers seem to be growing, they are perhaps not as mindless as once thought. Allie begins to suspect that the ferals are becoming organized and coming after their camp.
The action and suspense are carried with incredible skill. The story doesn't drag at any point, knowing the publisher and co-writer's film background it is easy to assume this story was developed to be a film project. Two parts stuck as favorites of mine, in chapter thirty, the authors create a great sense of dread, we will read and discuss this in the audio interview. The action switches from first person to third and back and forth depending on the point of view. This can be distracting but after the first switches I didn't notice.
One aspect that was missing is a deep look at fears women carry of men naturally. Think of the issues of street harassment. Some women can not walk down the street without being objectified. One out of every three women have been sexually assaulted. These are sensitive issues but one that I think could have been explored more deeply in a novel that takes place in a world where only women remain sane. The novel does however tackle one of these issues in a major way towards the end that cannot be talked about without spoilers. Both Audio bonuses will discuss this message in the story. This reveal on page 271.
At the same time I respect Feral for for not being too deep. It is a excellently told story, and I was turning pages no problem. I filled in a alot of gaps myself well reading it. Feral is a good, and entertaining read that comes very close to expanding the genres. I admit as much as I love Evenson I think MR Carey's The Girl With all the Gifts is better example of expanding the zombie genre but both are worth reading.
Check out this 40 minute audio review of Feral featuring myself and Critic Marvin Vernon. He blogs at: thenovelpursuit.blogspot.com
BRIAN EVENSON INTERVIEW: