Everything’s bigger in Texas. Joe McKinney’s novel Dead City proves this adage is true for zombie apocalypses too. As if five hurricanes aren’t enough to ruin your month, on the back of these natural disasters is a plague. This plague just happens to return the dead to life with a hunger for flesh, delicious human flesh.
McKinney shows the zombies vs. humans dynamic through Eddie Hudson, police officer. Eddie must manage to serve and protect the city, find his wife and 6-month-old son in the mayhem, and determine which survivors to trust all while keeping his brain in tack. For a reader, Dead City is a constant thrill that has a fast jam-packed story. Hudson comes across as utterly human. He wants to find his family, he wants to survive, but he still manages to keep his humanity and not turn into the alpha male zombie hunting stock character. McKinney himself is a detective in San Antonio and delivers a glimpse into the mind of an officer during a catastrophe.
For the squeamish, the abundance of horrifying gore scenes might be a bit much, but each instance works within the framework of the story rather than seeming tacked on for the sake of shock value. But, what’s truly terrifying in Dead City is the tension of a city in turmoil during a zombie outbreak. Civilized rules and regulations break down into chaos, riots, and destruction. By the end, readers might end up questioning just how much one disaster (zombie related or other) could disrupt our own society’s delicate balance.
What looked back at me wasn’t a face at all. There was a massive gash starting just below the left eye. It was blood red and protruding from the socket like a squashed grape. The gash opened downward in a ragged triangle that spread around the jawbone, ending at a flap of skin that was caked over with dirt and hanging uselessly from his neck.