First published in April of 2011, US author David Youngquist’s first instalment into the ‘Snareville’ series saw its release as one of the early publications by the horror writers collective Dark Continents Publishing.

DLS Synopsis:
Everything fell to pieces when the Ebola-type virus was unleashed onto the world, first killing the infected and then reanimating their corpses into ravenous flesh-eating zombie.  From that moment on, life became one long struggle for survival.  They called the day it all happened Z-Day.

Now, a year on from when it all went rotten, the small town of Snareville quietly located in the ‘American Outback’ is one of the few remaining pockets of survivors.  The townspeople are still fortifying their position against the marauding hordes of the undead.  Once boasting of a population of around 800, now the town is home to just over 500…and the number keeps falling.  Much of how the small town managed to survive this far from the ever-present threat of the zombies is down to one of their residents – twenty-five year old Daniel Jackson (aka Danny Death).  Well, that and the advantages offered by the middle-of-god-knows-where location.

Suddenly, from almost out of nowhere arrives Jennifer Mueller followed by a horde of the rotting, but very much dangerous, deceased.  The zombies are quickly and expertly ‘dropped’, and Jennifer soon fits in with the way of life within the Snareville community – obtaining the new name of Jenny One Sock.  And her acceptance to Snareville quickly develops to finding a place within the bed of the second in command – Danny Death.  But unbeknown to Jenny, her husband is still alive and kicking and out there somewhere.  And he’s not going to like this new change of heart. 

A lightening raid to one of the nearby towns achieves the community a massive cache of weaponry - from hand guns, to sniper rifles, to semi-automatic rifles.  Now they’re ready to really protect their slowly growing community.  But the fortifying of the whole town is slow work and there’s always another threat on its way.  And it’s not always from the undead…

DLS Review:
Youngquist’s first instalment into the post-apocalyptic zombie series ‘Snareville’ is certainly not the most original of offerings.  Needless to say, such a plot and premise has been done a thousand times before.  The inspirations, homages and references are all there from the word go.  You’ll find the vast majority of this first novel in the series follows a similar blueprint to David Moody’s ‘Autumn’ novels (2002 onwards).  Inject hefty elements from Travis Adkins’ Twilight of the Dead sequel ‘After Twilight: Walking With The Dead’ (2008), with snippets of Danny Boyle’s blockbuster movie ’28 Days Later’ (2002), Zack Snyder’s remake of ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ (2004), a fair smattering of Terry Nation’s ‘Survivors’ (1975), and a healthy slab of the good stuff from John Russo’s novel ‘Return of the Living Dead’ (1978) – and you’ve got yourself a winning (if not somewhat overused) formula.

Indeed, the inspirations just keep flooding in from all over the shop; with the zombies becoming inactive due to freezing during the cold winter periods – ‘World War Z’ (2006), an underground market of undead sex-slaves is uncovered – ‘Land Of The Dead’ (2005) and with door-to-door house checks in search of zombie nests – ‘I Am Legend’ (1954)...to name but a few.

However much the novel is clearly walking in its predecessors footsteps, where ‘Snareville’ really makes its ground is with the richness of its characters.  Like with Stephen King’s epic post-apocalyptic tale ‘The Stand’ (1978), Youngquist reaches out to the reader with a multitude of lovingly created and carefully developed characters that together form the beating heart of the tale. 

Youngquist bravely challenges our modern-day social conventions with fully endorsing polygamy (multiple wives) for our principal protagonist, as well as a number of other residents within Snareville.  Once again, this is certainly not a new notion to be applied to such dystopian fiction, having been explored by such authors as Robert A. Heinlein and even Dan Simmons in similarly dystopian fiction.  What is refreshing however, is the light acceptance that Youngquist so easily applies to this quickly adopted notion.

The tale flows with a constantly exciting pace, with new plot-twists and interesting new angles to take the storyline on, around each and every corner.  There’s no sitting still in Snareville, with numerous missions across zombie infested landscape constantly cropping up; missions that will undoubtedly lead the ‘Raiders’ (as they have been dubbed) towards new dangers and uncovering new threats.

Characters come and go across the breadth of the novel, each adding their own small impact to the reader’s emotional attachment with the storyline.  At times it does become a little too cluttered with the wealth of characters at play, but Youngquist seems to quickly identify this and sneakily kills off a few of these characters just when the reader’s beginning to feel a little bombarded.

Surprisingly, a vast array of more sensitive and hard-hitting subjects are (somewhat briefly) hit upon within the novel.  From child sex trafficking, forceful rape, capital and corporal punishment, as well as the earlier mentioned polygamy – Youngquist dives in headfirst with his every-avenue-has-something-to-add stance to the many meandering routes of the storyline.

All in all this is an incredibly easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable tale that keeps you energised for the next quick action-packed fix.  It’s a much needed shot in the arm for zombie fiction – pumping more congealed-black blood through the previously clogged veins of this thoroughly saturated market.  Not entirely original – but a monstrously good zombie-yarn nonetheless.

The novel runs for a total of 175 pages. 

© DLS Reviews

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