My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Daniel Cotton’s, Life Among The Dead, is an entertaining novel that interweaves several stories of survivors that are connected along the way. The novel almost reads like a collection of short stories that at times come together to intersect, then branch off into separate stories, before connecting again. It makes for an interesting narrative, though I almost would have preferred if this was a collection of short stories, allowing the author to take up different perspectives.
Daniel Cotton can clearly write and has a way with describing imagery and action. The characters develop nicely, especially in the second half in the novel. While I found it a little tough to get through the first few pages, the majority of the characters became more intriguing as the story went on. Some of their stories somewhat fall by the wayside, which the story attempts to remedy in the final chapters, however the ending comes up a little flat as a result. That aside, I really felt the novel was quite ambitious and imaginative, and very worthy of a four star rating.
The writing in the novel almost screams for the author to try out a first person narrator. While many of the characters, such as Bruce, develop very well in the third person. At other times, the perspective seems to be exclusively in Dan’s head, getting very few thoughts of the surrounding characters. It might have been better told through Dan’s voice, and I would really love to see the story Daniel Cotton can write in the first person.
The novel takes some interesting side journeys, revealing a world that is riddled with cannibal road warriors and religious zealots, but it fortunately doesn’t dwell on these stories too long. It is enough to give a picture of the post-apocalyptic vision of the author, without being waylaid into an overused storyline. These stories were also why the structure seemed to beg for a short story collection type of format.
For hardcore zombie fans, this is a worthwhile read that will keep you engaged throughout and build interest along the way. It’s got a decent mix of gore, action, and character development that makes for a well-balanced zombie diet.