Saturday, October 03, 2009

Xombies: Apocalypse Blues - Walter Greatshell

Xombies: Apocalypse Blues
Walter Greatshell


Louise (Lulu) Pangloss is a seventeen-year-old with issues. First, she has a condition that has severely slowed the onset of puberty and eliminated her menstrual cycle. As a result of this, she could pass for a child half her age. Second, her mother has made a lifestyle of dragging her across the country one jump ahead of bill collectors and angry landlords. Now, Lulu’s mother has become obsessed with the idea that a man named Fred Cowper is Lulu’s father. She’s followed him to a deserted off-season resort area on the east coast. With no radio or TV, the two women miss the beginning of the end of humanity.

During the month they’ve been hiding out in the seaside cottage, women around the world have suddenly become undying, killing machines. More accurately, the Xombies (named for the female X chromosome) seem to exist to create more Xombies. Although women are quickly quarantined, the disease continues to spread through both male and female populations. Lulu sees her mother become an unreasoning thing, and has resigned herself to an unknown fate when Fred arrives and rescues her. He clearly has inside information, and takes Lulu to a defense contractor’s compound, heavily guarded against the Xombies. From here, Lulu and a group of survivors begin an incredible trek north. None of them is prepared for what they’ll find there.

The story is told entirely from Lulu’s point of view, which heightens both the tension and the immediacy of events. The reader experiences everything with her, from her first, uncomprehending encounter with the Xombies to the moment she learns the terrible truth. Lulu has backbone, resilience, and intelligence. Her observations, even those most dark, are often laced with sarcastic humor. The rest of the cast of characters is developed quite well. Considering that the group of survivors is fairly large, it’s a tribute to the author that he was able to imbue each of them with distinct personalities and quirks.

The pace is frantic and grabbed me from the very first page to the last. Generally, ‘like a movie in book form’ wouldn’t be a compliment. Here, it most definitely is. This is one that you won’t be able to put down; I know I couldn’t.

Rating: 8 ½
October 2009
ISBN# 978-0-441-01835-2 (paperback, reissue)

Note: This book was originally published in 2004 as “Xombies.”


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