Pros: Moon zombies!!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Dead Moon, by Peter Clines, is a wonderful new take on the zombie story! For nearly a hundred years, the Moon has hosted cemeteries. There’s just no more room to bury the dead on Earth, so Caretakers respectfully do the deed in the soil of the Moon. Cali Washington, having given up on her dream career, is a newly-arrived Caretaker. A few short weeks after she arrives, however, a mysterious meteor crashes into one of the other cemeteries. This meteor, which is far more than just rock, brings the dead back to a semblance of life! They can walk outside on the Moon without difficulty, and they have at least some rudimentary intelligence–their goal seems to be to kill everyone they come across, and they know how to do things like un-seal a person’s space suit. Jake, one of Cali’s co-workers, is a former Marine. Tessa is a particularly enthusiastic Caretaker who’s wanted to do this all of her life. Kurt Hausmann is the son of the CEO of DisCorp, which owns the Moon facilities, taking his turn at experiencing “real” work. When Kurt goes missing in the first wave of deaths, the governor refuses to call for help, knowing that if she does, she’ll have to report Kurt’s death–thus ending her career.
There are touches of both humor and cosmic horror to this story, though I wouldn’t overall classify it as either. The meteor is called the Outcast, and it “would have been a god”, although it’s much diminished now. It definitely gives off some “Elder Gods” vibes at times. There are 16 million people buried on the moon, and only 300+ living, so there are some seriously bad odds here. Sure, the zombies are mostly out on the surface of the moon, but they have some intelligence. Also, every time they kill a person, that person joins their ranks. So it only takes a few to perpetuate the problem.
I enjoyed the characters quite a bit. Cali’s alluded-to dream career becomes relevant in little ways. Jake’s military training (and traumas) come into play. Tessa is fun, being a little too into being a Caretaker. The sheriff, Gordon, turns out to be an interesting guy. The governor is the somewhat stereotypical politician who cares way more about her career than anything else, but even she has little interesting details to her. I love that dead people are called “clients,” and the characters start off referring to the zombies as “former clients”!
Because this takes place on the Moon, there are some unique issues. For example, there aren’t any guns on the Moon! Then of course there’s all the challenges presented by a lack of atmosphere and low temperatures. The lower gravity makes things interesting as well. It adds a new dimension to a subject that’s gotten a lot of play. The fact that the zombies act with some intelligence makes things interesting as well. Later events bring more interest to the meteor itself, and what it might be or want. The story gets wonderfully tense; I had my fist against my mouth for a goodly part of the climax!
If you enjoy zombie stories, I think you’ll really love this one. It has some unusual aspects to it, and it’s really fun!
“We’ve only got Pepsi on the Moon, hon.”