First published in April of 2011, British author Adam Baker’s debut novel ‘Outpost’ saw its publication hitting a now thriving post-apocalyptic market, with the recent return to popularity of this bleak subgenre.

DLS Synopsis:
Moored just off an uninhabited and unforgiving island, deep within the Arctic Ocean; Kasker Rampart is now a derelict oil refinery platform, it’s few remaining crew waiting out their last days on the colossal metal structure, before abandoning the platform for good.

Elsewhere around the world, an epidemic has broken out, with initial reports suggesting similarities to a mutant strain of rabies.  As near worldwide annihilation grips the planet, the crew of Rampart watch on in horror.  Salvation is just a brief and fleeting hope, when a small vessel manages to pick up just four of the refineries crew.

As the powerful winter storms ravage the world outside the confines of Kasker Rampart, sudden radio contact is made with other survivors in the relatively near vicinity.  A rescue mission is arranged, to collect these three desperate survivors in the midst of sub-zero temperatures.

Whilst outside in the torrential snow-covered wilderness, technician Ghost and acting manager of the refinery - Rawlins, witness a strange object fall from the sky.  Later, their inspection of the object reveals it to be a Russian space capsule that had crashed into the frozen landscape not too far from their base location.  But something is still alive within the small space capsule.  Something that has already brought the entirety of humanity to near extinction.  Something that has now infected Rawlins after a sudden and vicious attack.

Alone without the hope of rescue, the few remaining crew of Kasker Rampart must try to work out a survival plan for the long cold arctic winter months.  Starvation and hypothermia are now very real and immediate threats.  That is, until the first signs of the deadly contagion start to immerge.  Survival is no longer necessarily the best option…

DLS Review:
The novel begins with laying down swift introductions to the limited crew that remain on the moored oil refinery.  The initial characterisation is somewhat staggered and selective; with some characters (such as our principal protagonist Jane) being lovingly defined, with her backstory extensively developed upon; whereas other members of the crew are seemingly washed over, with only the meekest of mentions other than their names and role on board the giant refinery.

From early on the reader picks up on the interesting sharply-spiked prose that Baker has adopted for the novel.  Dramatic events are punctuated with short, sharp statements for sentences.  The action is therefore delivered in a very direct and matter-of-fact manner, with this blunt but impactful twist in the writing.  As a whole, this creative delivery to the writing cleverly adds yet another dimension to the way it is absorbed by the reader.

The entire setting is incredibly close to that of John Carpenter’s film ‘The Thing’ (1982), interlaced with Michelle Paver’s ‘Dark Matter’ (2010), and a healthy dash of Danny Boyle’s ‘28 Days Later’ (2002) style of rampaging post-apocalyptic madness.  Atmosphere is certainly there, but is given a slightly lighter touch than one would have expected given the premise.  However, the impending threat to survival descending from all angles brings forth a monumental barrage of tension that keeps the reader’s pulse thumping throughout.

When Baker unleashes the action and bloodspill, he does it in bucket loads.  Once the infection is out there, and the violence is immediate, Baker cranks the whole novel up a good ten additional notches, with ‘zombie-esque’ style epidemic threats and horror-fuelled sieges.  The pace just builds and builds, with almost a non-stop thread of action constantly on the go from a good third of the way in until the gritty finale.

Unfortunately, the ending is sadly a little on the disappointing side.  What had been constantly mounting towards an incredibly intense and all-rounded post-apocalyptic cum sci-fi-horror soiree, peters out with a disappointingly weak finale that leaves the reader somewhat puzzled with the sudden change in tone and delivery.  Yes the action is there, and yes, the constantly running suspense kept the reader on the edge throughout the finale.  However, when the crucial showdown is at hand, instead of delivering a final teeth-shattering punch to end the whole book on, Baker instead chooses to slip out the back door with a somewhat unadventurous (and relatively unexciting) turn in the tale.  This is alas utterly disappointing considering the incredible build-up and all-round excitement of the previous nine-tenths of the novel.

Nevertheless, it must be said that as a whole the novel is still an incredible achievement for a debut.  Gripping, fast paced, enthralling, energetic, atmospheric and downright gritty.  Horror seems to seep from every page as the author cranks up the tension and nail-biting suspense.  Baker is certainly one to watch out for…

The book runs for a total of 369 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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