Pros: Generically interesting
Cons: Nothing terribly new
Rating: 3 out of 5
K.R. Griffiths’ Panic (Wildfire Chronicles Vol. 1), also available as part of the bundle Wildfire Chronicles: Volumes 1-4, is a not-quite-zombie post-apocalyptic horror bio-thriller. It hit pretty much all my buttons there, but unfortunately I didn’t find anything terribly new in this series.
Canisters fall from the sky, transforming people into monsters. The Infected tear their own eyes out and then attempt to eat anyone… I was going to say anyone ‘in sight’, but I guess ‘in hearing’ is more appropriate. The Infected seem to have extremely acute hearing, so any noise or movement is likely to attract them. And they are fast–if you get their attention, you’re probably dead. The Infected are not zombies, despite their similarity to zombies. They’re living creatures, not ‘undead’, and can be killed in the same ways as anyone else–no head-shots required. The infection was genetically engineered, but something has gone wrong in the details, thanks to a former employee, Victor. Police officer Michael joins up with temper-prone Rachel and her big, somewhat slow brother Jason and goes in search of his eight-year-old daughter.
In general the writing is decent-but-not-amazing, but there are entertaining quotes here and there:
In the main the residents of St. David’s were either in the middle of their twilight years, or at the very least, seriously considering turning on their headlights.
Victor is hiding out in a bunker now that things have gone crazy–a very well-stocked, well-fortified, and large bunker. He has laid out traps around it, but those traps are designed to hurt humans. Victor had a role in creating the infection. At one point it’s said that Victor ‘never had much input’ on the biological/engineered part of the planning, but that makes no sense. Given some of the unexpected aspects of the infection, he would’ve absolutely had a role on the bio end, and a pretty big role at that. The kind of role where the group of bigwigs setting this thing up should have kept him around instead of letting him go all hermit on the world. After all, he made it so that the infection (supposedly) can’t affect anyone with his blood type–that’s hardly a tiny change!
There are a few unnecessary internal monologues early on that slow things down to no good effect. Thankfully that gets better over time.
Seriously, how many concussions can one man (Michael) take?! He gets knocked out repeatedly. It isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds to knock someone out with a single blow. And–especially once done several times–it can cause real damage. It’s just used as a convenient off-switch in this book.
Victor brings all three of our heroes inside after helping them deal with an attack of the Infected. Given his totally psychotic nature, I cannot understand why he brought in Michael and Jason. One can’t walk and the other is locked in an internal landscape, and both will require dipping into his precious supplies to keep them going. As far as I can tell, he brings them in simply because the plot requires it. As for Rachel… seriously, do not read this series if you don’t want to read about a horrifying rape.
I decided to go ahead and read the next installment, Shock, despite some of my misgivings. After all, the plot really does push all of my buttons.