Sometimes being alone is better…………….
That is the quite miserable tagline on the cover of the sequel to Iain Rob Wright’s book, Savage. Having read Ravage, and quite enjoyed it, I was pleased to see what was billed as a sequel although I must admit I wondered how much of a direct sequel it could be, what with the sudden ending of the first.
In terms of being a direct sequel, it isn’t. I guess the best way to describe it would be to say that Iain Rob Wright has written these stories around a particular area of the world and because of that there are characters in each that are constant thus continuing a story but it isn’t a sequel in that it tells the on going story of one or a group of people. The good thing about that is that this book can be read as a standalone story without the need to have read the first. I, like the first, downloaded this as an eBook straight after finishing the first.
The story this time round seems to focus more on a whole group rather than having a truly main character although as the story unfolds, some characters do take centre stage at times. With the world well and truly plagued by zombies and infected people, a group of survivors have made camp on a pier. They are well stocked and well-defended and don’t appear in the least bit in any danger due to strict (and clever) rules they have in place regarding security. Strong gates protect the front of the pier and with the sea at their back and sides; they seem to have made a very good decision around where to set up. They have a certain amount of medical supplies and people skilled in using them and they have a group of people who act as scavengers who are well organised who raid local towns and villages for supplies to keep them stocked. Unfortunately for them though, they are in more danger than they could believe.
A foraging mission led by the very likeable Garfield ends with them finding and returning with a wounded man. The general decency of the group on the pier means they will and do try to help he wounded man in any way possible. Unfortunately for them, it turns out the man is on the run from a very large and very powerful group who have taken to the sea in a huge fleet of ships. This fleet is run by the wealthy and completely insane Samuel Raymeady who has essentially declared himself leader of the world. He has amassed a huge army of followers who see him as their saviour but mainly due to not wanting to be sent away and left alone, away from Samuel’s strength. When Samuel’s go to warrior Roman is sent to retrieve the injured man, the group on the pier refuse to hand him over and things get very nasty, very quickly.
With zombies at their backs and Samuel’s fleet at their fronts, there seems to be no way out for this once well protected group.
Some revelations about Samuel and the source of the worldwide infection seem to sway Roman’s loyalty and essentially a small war breaks about between the small group on the pier and the fleet on the sea all while the dead slowly move closer and closer to getting in to the pier. The pier group led by Anna (from the first book) takes desperate measures to defend themselves and their people from Samuel and his followers and there is an explosive ending that many characters don’t walk away from.
Once again I thought that Iain Rob Wright has done a fantastic job of developing characters you will quickly grow to love or hate. Garfield is very likeable; the headstrong young girl Poppy is a great character as is the warrior like Roman, who is a complex personality. With an author who is totally happy to kill off main or sub characters at any stage of the book, you get left wondering with the turn of each page which of your personal favourite characters will go next.
The story itself concentrates on the human desperation of an apocalyptic event; those trying to survive and those taking advantage of the situation to claim power. Despite this, the threat of the zombies and infected is still present and doesn’t feel watered down which is pleasing. In comparison to the first books though, it does feel a little like it has gone down a more “action” sort of route with not so much in the way of suspense. Despite a solid and relatively interesting story line, I found the big action sequences a little disappointing. Having said that, some of the non-action sequences and deaths are often brilliantly shocking and gruesome.
Once again though I am left a little disappointed by grammatical errors and some of the use of words. At times it almost feels like the author thinks I am stupid and explains things in very basic language and, while it shouldn’t matter as long as the message is conveyed correctly, as an adult reading an adult book, I felt some of it was a bit childlike.
All in all though, it was a good read although a notch or two down in quality from the first book. There was enough there to make me hope for a third though, if for no other reason than to see what happens with any surviving characters next.
Savage: An Apocalyptic Horror Novel (Iain Rob Wright)