First published back in May of 2005, Travis Adkins’ second novel ‘Twilight Of The Dead’ quickly became a widely talked about new novel within the post-apocalyptic zombie community. The special edition re-release, published in October 2006, includes new cover art by Noel Hill and includes an additional 78 pages; delivering three bonus short stories detailing important moments in the lives of the ‘Twilight of the Dead’ survivors.  An additional three page introduction by the author of the widely acclaimed ‘Autumn’ zombie series - David Moody is also included.

DLS Synopsis:
It
s now five years on from the initial zombie outbreak and Courtney Colvin’s life within the fortified and thoroughly secure town of Eastpointe has once again returned to a relatively mundane existence.  The problem is quite simply - Eastpointe has it all.  It's as close to a return to normal civilization as possible.  All whilst the undead continue to roam the landscape beyond the secure perimeters of the town.

Equipped with specialised clothing and permitted to carry firearms, Colvin is one of the few individuals who takes frequent trips outside of this enclosure on scheduled missions to salvage further supplies.  Colvin, along with the other remaining ‘Black Berets’ are fully trained in all aspects of combat specially adapted to fight off the flesh-eating hordes of the undead.

With her life now following such a painstakingly uneventful path, Courtney’s only touches of any true emotion are during these daring raids outside the perimeter of Eastpointe, or from the recurring nightmare that still plagues her each night.  To make matters worse, Leon Wolfe - a fellow Black Beret - has been carrying on with a shallow and emotionless relationship with Colvin, which only furthers the depressive spiral of her emotional state.

However, all of this is about to change with the surprising arrival of a new and previously unknown survivor at Eastpointe’s gates.  To the community’s astonishment, scientist Dr Aaron Dane has just walked up to the gates in plain view, with zombies aplenty in the immediate vicinity.  Furthermore, the scientist claims to know the location of an antidote for the zombie plague, which he insists is one-hundred percent legitimate.  Unsurprisingly, Colvin and a handful of fellow Black Berets are soon preparing to be sent out by the community leaders to retrieve this alleged antidote.  But there appears to be more to this whole scenario than first meets the eye...

DLS Review:
After reading ‘Twilight Of The Dead’ for the first time, I’m certainly on the side of the majority of zombie-fans out there.  If not entirely original in its premise, this is nevertheless still a much needed shot in the arm for action-packed zombie fiction.  The storyline never lets up on its fast and tension building pace; with new plot developments emerging throughout this non-stop-rollercoaster-of-a-ride. The tale eventually builds to an even more dramatic conclusion that leaves the novel on a nail-biting cliff hanger, setting the premise up for the next book in the series ‘After Twilight: Walking With The Dead’ (2008).

From the outset, the reader is thrown straight into a somewhat standard post-apocalyptic scenario, where we follow the depressed survivor, Courtney Colvin, as she struggles to remain alive within this frightening and desperate new world where survival should never be taken for granted.  With the principal character now established and the scene nicely set with flesh-chomping-zombie-action, the storyline suddenly reverts back to earlier events in Colvin’s life.  This sudden back-tracking offers Adkins the chance to explore our principal protagonist in a greater depth; encouraging the reader to identify with Colvin from the glimpses of a more down-to-earth and realistic lifestyle pre-apocalypse.

The novel uses a character driven storyline delivered through the eyes of Colvin, pumping out a tale full of zombie-pummelling mayhem, with little to no room for developing on any degree of atmosphere other than a simple message of “hold on tight...cos our undead friends are coming calling”.  Furthermore, the pace certainly helps to keep the reader thoroughly enthralled with Colvin’s new life.  However any emotion that was meant to be felt for the characters is sadly left lacking, mostly due to the repeatedly missed opportunity to work on any lasting characterisation.  With this said, the reader still remains perched on the edge of their seat from start to finish, as the dramatic events that happen around the character of Courtney Colvin are brought to a climatic crescendo.

The use of ‘modified’ zombies sporting full body armour, bayonets extending from the zombies arms, and a set of razor sharp teeth to boot; takes the undead threat on to a whole new level - with terrifying ramifications for the survivors.  This idea of souping-up zombies was later utilised again in other zombie fiction such as the likes of David Wellingtons classic  Monster’ (2004-2005) trilogy, with the zombies arms this time sharpened down to form deadly spikes for spearing their victims with.

The novel shows an obvious lack of any serious medical or biological research from the author, with his vivid but entirely far-fetched imagination on display with regards to humanities response to such a massive and life threatening epidemic.  Therefore, suspending all possible notion of disbelief is essential for the readers full enjoyment of this novel.  However, this is far from a difficult task with such an overtly over-the-top action filled zombie novel pumping out the blood-hungry excitement page after page.

All in all, ‘Twilight Of The Dead’ is nothing short of literary-candy for zombie enthusiasts who are sure to lap up this monstrously far-fetched addition to the now hugely popular (and quickly becoming over saturated) subgenre.  Adkins utilises brief moments of graphically gritty zombie-splatter to keep to the overall adult appeal of the novel.  With barely a page going by without some elaborate or essential element to the storyline being thrown in, the book is certainly a page turner from the very start to the triumphant cliff-hanger of an ending.

There are without a doubt much more involved and well written zombie novels out there.  However, what ‘Twilight Of The Dead’ does offer is a gripping tale of pulse-racing action that closely follows the tried and tested (yet still incredibly addictive) formula for a post-apocalyptic success.  For the sheer unashamed enjoyment factor alone, this novel is sure not to disappoint any zombie-fictionophile.

Also included in the special edition version is a map of the Eastpointe refuge, a pre-epidemic radio broadcast transcript, excerpts from Army Research Laboratory files, a final outfitting schematic of the Black Berets, excerpts on fighting techniques from the Black Berets training manual, as well as a page from the NASA files hinting towards the beginning of the plague from a mission to Venus...and other such insightful manuscripts and documents. 

The special edition re-release runs for a total of 284 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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