Audiobook Review: Remains of the Dead by Iain McKinnon

3 05 2012

Remains of the Dead by Iain McKinnon

Read by Karl Miller

Audible Frontiers

Length: 7 Hrs 48 Min

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick thoughts: Remains of the Dead is a devastating Zombie novel which leaves the reader no place to hide, and no shelter in the storm. It is a true sign of the relentless nature of this book that I have run out of euphemisms to use to describe it. For hard core Zombie enthusiasts, Remains of the Dead is a must have addition to your library. 

Grade: B+

There seems to be a real push recently to reinvent the Zombie. This is totally not a bad thing. Genres should be pushed to the edges, experimented on, mixed up, mashed together and turned on their head. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the traditional zombie tale. So many tales today use Zombies as a sort of vehicle to push the Survivors to some sort of stronghold where they are forced to stay. These tales use the zombie as a catalyst, but are essentially about the Survivors. While they wait for the flesh eating monsters to break in, they live and they love, they let their strange ways and beliefs influence their changed world. These stories are about respite. A break from the brutality that has changed their world. Yet, in some novels, there is no break. You are in the midst of things, surrounded on all sides by the ravenous undead. If you stop, hesitate for just a moment, you will become dinner for the hordes. While these tales are about the chase, they also give a glimpse into the survivors. The Zombies here are not set pieces, but an ever present danger, and this sort of constant stress brings out the best and worst in humans. For these survivors, the ultimate goal is escape, whether it be to a safe haven, or from the barrel of a gun. This is the world of Iain McKinnon’s Remains of the Dead.

While Remains of the Day is the follow up to McKinnon’s Domain of the Dead, it is a novel that stands very well on its own. Remains follows a group of soldiers and civilians after they are left behind during the rescue attempt that removed the characters of the first book to safety. These survivors must find a safe place to hole up until the helicopter can return to save them. Sadly, for them, so such place exists. Remains of the Dead is one of the fastest paced zombie novels I have experienced. It is the definition of non-stop zombie action. In fact, the pacing was so relentless I was scared to even pause my MP3 player for a second in fear that I may miss a key moment in the story. Throughout the story, no character is safe, no refuge truly secure and there is seemingly no end to the action on the remotest of horizons. Of all the novelist writing Zombie fiction today, McKinnon is the closest in my opinion to the feel and traditions of classic Romero. The Zombies are a force by their sheer numbers. Any slightest pause and the survivors would be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of carnivorous cannibalistic undead. There is a saying that quantity has a quality of its own, and this is spelled out in spades in Remains of the Dead. As the characters move from place to place you can feel their stress building. McKinnon is so relentless in his onslaught that you as the reader/listener feel like you are losing it along with the characters. In fact, if I had any complaint, it’s that I felt the ending was more of a pause in the action that an actual resolution. I still had that on edge feeling as the novel wrapped up, unsure of what was in store for the few surviving characters. Remains of the Dead is a devastating Zombie novel which leaves the reader no place to hide, and no shelter in the storm. It is a true sign of the relentless nature of this book that I have run out of euphemisms to use to describe it. For hard core Zombie enthusiasts, Remains of the Dead is a must have addition to your library. 

I was quite critical of Karl Miller’s narration in the first novel of this series. I felt it was someone lifeless with bland characterizations. Well, Miller impressed me in his reading of Remains of the Dead. I truly think this book, whose characters are a bit better defined and easier to visualize than the first novel, was a better fit for Miller’s strengths as a narrator. His characterizations weren’t world changing, but appropriate and easily delineated. Miller managed the breakneck pace of this novel perfectly, allowing for the action to flow naturally. Nothing seemed forced or rushed, and the action was read in a manner that allowed the listeners to easily follow what was going on. The highlight of his reading for me was his ability to display the emotional turmoil of the characters as the book progressed. You could just feel them breaking down as things just piled on top of them. Remains of the Dead is another exciting audiobook from Iain McKinnon, and one that can be enjoyed whether you’ve listened to Domain of the Dead or not.

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One response

3 05 2012
Audiobiliophile (@AudioBookRev)

This is in my wish list….*drool*

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