Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on David Wellington's blog tour for his epic zombie adventure story Positive. This tour is hosted by Pump Up Your Book tours and we're happy to have a review for you and later today we'll have a guest post from David himself! If you're into zombie fiction and are looking for a book with a young, naive teen boy narrator suddenly thrust into a wild and unfamiliar world with danger around every corner, Positive could be the book for you! You can see additional dates of the tour at the end of this post.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a honest review.
Released April 21, 2015
Thriller / Suspense
The acclaimed author of Chimera and The Hydra Protocol delivers his spectacular breakout novel—an entertaining, page-turning zombie epic.
Anyone can be positive . . .
Years after a plague killed 99 percent of the population, turning them into infectious zombies, Finnegan and his family live in a barricaded New York City. But Finn's sheltered life fractures when his unsuspecting mother falls sick with the zombie disease—latent inside her since before her son's birth.
Finn, too, can be infected. If he remains healthy for the last two years of the potential incubation period, he'll be cleared. Until then, he must be moved to a special facility for positives, segregated to keep the healthy population safe.
Tattooed with a plus sign on his hand that marks him as a positive, Finn is exiled from the city. But when marauders kill the escort sent to transport him, Finn must learn how to survive alone in an eerie, disintegrated landscape. And though the zombies are everywhere, Finn discovers that the real danger is his fellow humans.
Oh, zombies. Will we ever tire of you? David Wellington has created an expansive novel that crosses much of the country 20 years after the fall of civilization caused by a zombie virus. What many authors would have cut into three novels, Wellington puts into one rapidly paced adventure ride where zombies are the initial drive of the plot, but become a bit of an afterthought by the end. Because, as with all zombie epics, people are always the real enemy.
Positive felt very much like a mash up of a lot of different things I’ve seen or read or consumed recently. It has long sequences that feel straight from Mad Max: Fury Road without the helpful addition of Furiosa. Other sequences could have been pulled straight from The Walking Dead and still others could be straight from any number of books or movies that involved long treks and starving through a terrible winter. Some elements of Positive stand out, but so much felt like it’d been taken from something else that the book never truly begins to soar for me.
Finn is our everyman hero. He’s a nineteen-year-old, post-apocalypse war baby, who doesn’t understand why everyone in his parents’ generation are all so paranoid and acting like they’re just ready to die already. He’s lived in the safe zone on Manhattan island all his life, fishing in the subway tunnels and living a fairly safe life. Then one day over a disappointing dinner, his mother turns into a red-eyed zombie and Finn’s best friend has to shoot her. As one would expect, Finn’s life is never the same.
Wellington’s zombie mythology is unique to the genre – or at least as far as my experience with the genre goes. While a virus caused the mass majority of people to turn into flesh-devouring, red eyed monsters 20 years ago, the remaining population must worry about a potential 20 year incubation period after exposure to the virus, whether that’s through exposure to blood or other bodily fluids both of zombies and those who may be infected, or being bitten. For example, main character Finn is pushed out of his community because his mother turns into a zombie 19 years after he was breast fed, so he potentially carries the virus. Considering this book takes place about 20 years after the initial zombie apocalypse, it makes you wonder why everyone isn’t a Positive, considering I can’t imagine a zombie situation where everyone didn’t have exposure to a zombie at one point in time. Or at least exposure to someone who was exposed. And wouldn’t each new exposure restart your 20 year clock? But this is a zombie novel, so some hand waving is allowed.
After Finn’s exile, book one starts. This is the “survive in the wilderness” story full of looters and crime lords with big SUVs covered in war paint and barbed wire. Finn gets picked up by a driver who happens to keep a harem of pre-teen and teenage girls in tow to help him loot houses and “keep him company”. This is the Mad Max portion of the program.
Book two starts when Finn finally reaches the “medical camp” he was meant to go to all along. The 20 year incubation period has left a great number of the remaining survivors exiled from the walled cities protected by the remains of the US Armed Forces and into work camps that are closer to gulags than anything one would expect to see on American soil. Suddenly zombies are an afterthought and we get a story about military control and political unrest.
Book three is a survival story involving a not-quite forced march through questionable terrain, starting a new community and learning new skills and trying to create a sense of safety. Think of this as the story of pilgrims with all the hopeful rhetoric and posturing that one would expect. There is one group of zombies that appear during this sequence. We see no other zombies after this.
Then finally we have book four, which involves a battle with the real enemies of the world – other humans. Because humans are the worse.
For a book so steeped in the fear of becoming a zombie, there aren’t that many zombies in this book, especially in the second half. I think that oscillation between “ZOMBIES! VIRUS! AAAAH!” and “The bad guys are really other people” kept me from really gelling with this book. There is a nice highlight about a third of the way when Finn comes across one of the few other people with their morals still intact in the whole book and I wish there could have been some more of that. Instead I got Finn becoming increasingly more self-important as he dictated new rules and not-so-serendipitously kept running into someone that was set out to be his nemesis but never seemed that menacing.
I don’t like classifying books by a gender, but perhaps this is more of a “boy” book because it’s told from the first person perspective of a teenage boy who lacks much maturity. His inner monologue, while possibly accurate for someone in that situation, often bothered me with its repetitiveness, immaturity and total lack of perspective. I’ve found with other books like this, people who had once been teenaged boys were less bothered by it than I am.
Positive is a take on a zombie world that felt very cobbled together from other things, though a few original ideas would have helped it soar much more if they’d been explored and expanded on. I know it’s wrong to demand logic of zombie books, but I need a little more of a solid foundation to truly follow along with Finn on his adventures. Instead I kept coming back to my questions about the logic of the whole thing. This could be an exciting adventure through post-apocalyptic America if you’re not as sensitive to those kinds of things.
About the Author:
David Wellington was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where George Romero’s classic zombie films were shot. He is the author of an online zombie serial, the Monster Island trilogy; Thirteen Bullets, a serialized vampire novel; and the Jim Chapel missions, including the digital shorts “Minotaur” and “Myrmidon,” and the novels Chimera and The Hydra Protocol. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
For More Information
Visit David’s website.
Full Tour Schedule
Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping
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Book featured at Around the World in Books
Book reviewed at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Book reviewed at Read Love Blog
Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Book featured at My Book Fairy
Book featured at Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions
Guest blogging at Bound 2 Escape
Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club
Book reviewed at Books, Food and Me
Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Romancing the Darkside
Book reviewed at Books that Hook
Book featured at Dawn’s Reading Nook
Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Working for the Mandroid
Book featured at Bent Over Bookwords
Book featured at Archaeolibrarian
Book featured at The Dark Phantom
Book featured at Voodoo Princess
Book reviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Book reviewed and Interviewed at The Cosy Dragon
Book reviewed at Bea’s Book Nook
Guest blogging at Write and Take Flight
Book reviewed at Kristy Centeno
Book reviewed and Guest blogging at Natural Bri
Book reviewed at Bloody Bookish
Book reviewed at A Room Without Books is Empty
Book reviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
Book featured at Teatime and Books
Book reviewed at A Book Geek
Book reviewed at Ashley’s Bookshelf