Review: Devil’s Wake

Devil's Wake
Devil’s Wake by Steven Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a nice zombie thriller – made very real and visceral. Although not strictly zombies, these people have fallen prey to an infection that first makes them sleepy and then turns them into biting monsters. They don’t really eat their victims, at least most don’t, but bite – trying to spread it as far as they can I suppose. The main two characters are Kendra, a teenager from a nice family in Portland, OR, who, when her father falls sick because of being bitten by one in the very early stages, has to endure his leaving home to save them, before his mind goes. Then she is given supplies and told to stay locked in the basement until a secret phrase that she has with her grandfather is revealed. She is not to come out for any reason, even if her mother asks her. Meanwhile her mother, not infected yet, but scared she might become so, calls her father and asks him to come down and get them. But in the meantime, while trying to help a neighbor, who looks fine, she is bitten by that neighbor. Finally Kendra’s grandfather arrives and she goes to his cabin in the woods, well-stocked and prepared for living off the land, with a few trips to the local market, which is still open. And that is the start of her journey. The other is a young boy, a little on the juvenile delinquent side, from a broken home, who is sent to a camp for such kids, who still have a chance to turn around their lives. The camp in is the Southern WA woods, not that far from Kendra’s grandfather. The couple that runs the place are nice, kind and have worked with troubled kids for many years, and soon the boys are whipped into shape and have learned some basic outdoors skills, including how to shoot a shotgun. The camp owns a van and a big lumbering old bus. When the camp’s owners are bitten, they have to escape. One of them they lock in the fridge until he freezes – the other was killed by her husband. They gather up as many supplies as they can in the school bus, intending to head for the nearest town in southern Washington, and stay there – the radio, sporadic as it is, says there’s safety and food and shelter there. They load the bus with as many provisions as they can, as much ammo and guns as they can find, and take off. And thus begins their journey to safety. Somewhere along the line, they and Kendra meet up and begin a long trek down the coast as it becomes less safe at each place they think is okay. Some of the people left unbitten are good, otehrs are profiteers, or bandits, or just desperate for food for their families. Eventually by the end of the book they are heading for Devil’s Wake – an island where Kendra’s aunt lives, and they hope will take them in (not giving away much since the name of the island is the title). It is the first in a at least two part book series I hope, since there is still much to tell. Good characters, Not too much on the attitude from bad teens excuse, and more about working together, with some trust issues. A few others are picked up along the way. Enjoyed it very much. Not great literature, but it’s zombies!

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