Horror Book Review: Autumn: Disintegration (David Moody)


One day 99% of the world just died…choking to death on their own blood. An airborne virus, no-one could see it & no-one could fight it. In an instant humanity was almost wiped out completely, those that weren’t affected hid away frightened & lost.

Then the dead got back up…

At first they wandered lost, not seeing & not knowing oblivious to those that had survived the virus but soon they began to change.

Suddenly survivors were under attack from the masses of the dead. With no clear motivation they gravitated to where our remnants hid, the slightest noise creating a chain reaction that saw hundreds & thousands all moving towards the same place. As the days passed, the threat increased & the dead began to learn…

Disintegration is the penultimate Autumn novel…It doesn’t follow on from the previous story but instead focuses on a different group of survivors.

It’s been forty days since 99% of the world died…it is a very different place now. Those that survived have banded together for protection believing in safety in numbers. A group of men & women have been surviving in a well-fortified block of flats that overlook a steep hill. As part of a construction site (the place was being torn down) it gifted them several diggers so that they could block the road with vehicles & rubble keeping the dead on one side.

The problem is the group are a fractured bunch with wide-ranging personalities that consistently clash. Greed sees them making regular trips into the city for supplies & each time they attract more & more dead to their hiding place.

Unaware of how the dead are adapting the group become more complacent. Their position, while not ideal, has afforded them plenty of protection so far.

One day while letting off steam by hand-picking dead to beat up, 2 of the more unlikeable survivors are shocked when one of the zombies tries to bite one of them. Realising the situation is getting worse the group decide to fight back. The plan is to move the barricades further back & kill as many as they can in the process.

It works but the dead continue to learn & it’s not long before they work out how to climb. Meanwhile panic is running rife with the survivors as 1 of their number has died of an unknown disease & another is now sick.

As the dead pour over the barricades the group realise they have to leave so set out in a convoy of vehicles eventually ending up at a well-hidden hotel run by another group of survivors. This lot have been doing things differently choosing to hide away, keeping quiet & living off meagre rations waiting for the dead to rot into nothing.

At first it seems like a great plan but the some of the group who have just arrived are used to going out & getting what they want when they want. Already pushed to breaking point it’s not long before the 2 groups clash over how long they can actually survive here…

Autumn: Disintegration is the best book of the series so far thanks to the interesting & diverse characters introduced. In previous books I’ve struggled to gain a mental picture of many of the characters involved & often they were forgettable so their deaths had little impact. Here though characters feel more thought out, more formed & way more interesting. Each seems to have personalities that make them unique & it’s easy to like & dislike them based off their actions & words. The character Webb for example is both sympathetic yet infuriating. He is a catalyst for many of the group’s problems yet they put up with him none the less. His end is something that I found quite harrowing…a fate worse than death at the hands of the walking dead.

The introduction of a secondary group halfway through the book helped keep things fresh. A new location, new characters & new threats to overcome kept the book rolling in a positive direction.

When reading an Autumn novel you can never shake of the feeling of despondency…the knowledge that nothing will be ok & if anyone does survive it will only be a stay of execution. Disintegration is no different as the survivors seem destined to run & run until eventually the hordes catch them.

As a reader you keep wondering just like the survivors, just how long will it take for the majority of the dead to rot away? Just how long do they have to wait before they are safe?

The reality is they never will be as the inclusion of a quick acting disease adds a lot more to the overall series. With the amount of death & decay occurring around them it is almost inevitable that sickness would spread & it’s almost a relief to see it start here. It’s not hugely expanded on but does offer some moments of gut-wrenching decisions for the survivors.

At the end the book jumps many weeks later & we finally begin to see the aftermath of what will happen when they dead finally rot away. A glimmer of hope is offered in a world covered with the rot & gore of the once walking dead.

As always the author is incredibly descriptive when it comes to the dead. You can feel ever squelch, smell every inch of rot & taste the bile in the back of your throat. It is easily one of David Moody’s strengths & always interesting to read.

One more to go…

Autumn: Disintegration (David Moody)
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