ONE TROOP DESCENDS INTO HELL
Rolling the dice on a last-ditch plan to save London by retrieving the Kazakh's zombie-annihilating virus, Jameson leads his last best men into the dragon's den - an underground bunker home to the savage and hyper-skilled Spetsnaz Alfa group. Getting out alive is a million-to-one shot - and then their real problems begin...
THE KENNEDY IS BURNING
The world's deadliest maritime commando force were made homeless when their battlecruiser went to the bottom of the Atlantic. Now they're looking for payback - and a replacement nuclear-powered warship. But not only is the whole JFK in play - so is Dr. Park, his vaccine design, and thus the fate of the entire world...
Hope Never Dies.
I’m going to admit right up front that I’ve read a lot of zombie apocalypse (ZA) novels. The majority of them tell the story of normal, everyday people freaking the fuck out and fighting to stay alive while a horde of undead eyeball them like they’re walking cheeseburgers. There are usually one or two alpha males with either law enforcement or some kind of vague military background leading a group of survivors—with one or two conveniently hot females—all of whom have zero experience in fighting, guns or survival. Every so often, I’d come across a ZA novel with a slightly unique twist but for the most part, the basic setup was consistent. Then I found the Arisen series.
When I read the Amazon blurb for Arisen, Book 1 Fortress Britain, my eyebrow did the Spock thing when Kirk would make a corny joke. In place of average folks running around like a zombie buffet, Arisen approached the ZA from the viewpoint of a team of “extremely elite special forces operators.” The idea of super bad ass military types actually going on the offensive rather than just hunkering down and trying to survive, was a whole new take. (I'm not saying these guys are as good as the Official Knockin' Books Zombie Apocalypse Team but they'll do in a pinch.) The fact that it was part of a series provided some added incentive for giving it a try. If I ended up liking the first book, I’d have a whole series of zombie stompin’ awesomeness to look forward to.
Since this is a review for Arisen, Book 11, Deathmatch, it’s pretty safe to say that I’m hooked. The series has been everything I’d hoped it would be and more. It’s extreme, fast-paced action at its most violent, explosive, deadly and gripping. Fuchs (along with Glynn James who co-authored the early part of the series) incorporate their highly extensive knowledge of military training, tactics, strategy, personnel, weapons, equipment and mindset for maximum realism and authenticity. (Check out our interview with Michael Stephen Fuchs here.)
One particular aspect of the Arisen series making it quantumly awesome is the extreme complexity of the countless intersecting storylines. There are times when it can get a little hard to follow, especially since new characters are constantly being introduced, but it makes for a deliciously intricate overarching plot with layer upon layer of depth and drama. Totally worth the extra effort required to keep track of all the details.
Without getting into too many specifics (and spoilers) Arisen Book Eleven, Deathmatch continues the insane pace of the earlier books. But even as the individual storylines advance, it feels like they’re all starting to converge towards some kind of super climax. All of humanity will either be saved or annihilated (probably in a hail of gunfire and explosions) depending on the actions of the bad ass elite operators who have been riding the ZA hell train through almost every book. For Deathmatch, Fuchs smartly limited the number of storylines to a smaller number than in some previous books, probably because of the intensity of the action.
So...even though I’m clearly a fan of the series and especially impressed with Book Eleven Deathmatch, why did I give it only 4.5 stars? It really comes down to personal taste. In my opinion, the one consistent flaw throughout the series and Deathmatch is that the good guys have an unrealistic amount of bad luck. Everything that can possibly go wrong, does go wrong. I totally understand that it wouldn’t be a very exciting story if there were no obstacles to overcome but these guys almost never catch a break. As a reader rooting for them to succeed, it often feels like the deck is being unfairly stacked against them which gets a bit frustrating after a while. Granted, the ZA is definitely a place where bad luck would be in ample supply but I think the law of averages would have to kick in at some point. Maybe it won’t bother some people but for me, it’s been one of the very few downsides to an otherwise brilliant series.
Knockin' Books was provided with an advance review copy of ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch.
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