4 Stars: “Fade to Black” by Josh Pryor

Posted: 18th June 2014 by Jason Kristopher in Books
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fadetoblack_978-1-59709-125-1-frontcoverDisclaimer: I had the good fortune to meet Josh and his family at ZomBcon 2011 in Seattle, where I was hocking my first book at the table just across from his. We agreed to a trade, and I sent people his way when they were done at my table. The fact that he is very cool and his family are really nice has no bearing on this review.

At the nexus of a top-secret government conspiracy to develop a doomsday-style bio-weapon, cutting edge science and ancient primal bloodlust collide when a team of ill-fated explorers unlocks the eons-old secrets of humankind’s savage evolutionary past lurking miles beneath the killing cold of Antarctica.

I was immediately drawn to this story when Josh told me that it was set primarily in Antarctica. This was due to the fact that the sequel to my first novel is set largely at McMurdo Station in Antartica, as well. There are other striking similarities between the stories as well, in particular the ultimate cause of the sickness that affects the characters, some of their psychological reactions, etc. So it was a bit difficult to step away from the book in a sense and see it on its own merits without thinking, “Well, that’s not how did it…”

First, let me say that I enjoyed the book. It kept me reading until the very end, and that’s always a good test for a book. If you can’t keep the reader’s attention long enough to keep them turning the pages, then your story isn’t ready, by any means. Pryor doesn’t have this problem, giving the reader plenty to keep them interested, right away.

I’m usually a fan of back story, even checking out deleted scenes on DVDs and reading free short stories that add-on to books, etc. That said, I think there could have been somewhat less backstory for some of the characters in this book, or at least given us more during the backstory to make the characters feel real, rather than just the standard book tropes.

By the end of the story, the main character just felt a bit… whiny… to me. I struggled to maintain the liking for the character that you should have for your protagonist. I hated the characters I was supposed to hate, but the ones whose side I was supposed to be on felt hollow and disingenuous, at times. Other times they rocked, hitting all the notes I was expecting and looking for.

It’s got plenty of action, gore in all the right places without seeming too overblown, and it’s so different from any of the other so-called “zombie books” out there, and believe me, I know.

Give it a read.  You won’t be disappointed.


Originally published on moderndayhitchhiker.com.

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