I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.EPIDEMIC OF THE LIVING DEAD by John Russo
Published by Kensington on August 28, 2018
Genres: Apocalyptic, Dark Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Psychological Horror, Supernatural, Suspense, Zombies
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From the screenwriter of the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead comes a shocking new wave of zombie mayhem to devour your dreams—and feed your nightmares . . .
THEY ARE WHAT THEY EAT
It starts with infected needles. It spreads like a plague. Soon the town of Chapel Grove, Pennsylvania, is overrun with cannibalistic corpses. Some are taken down with a bullet to the brain. Others, torched like kindling. But a few have survived—inside a maternity ward . . .
THEY’RE EATING FOR TWO NOW
Detective Bill Curtis manages to rescue his pregnant wife Lauren from the ward in the nick of time. But the other pregnant women are not so lucky. Some of them have been bitten—and infected. Now it’s anyone’s guess what’s growing inside them . . .
THEY’RE THE NEXT GENERATION
But the nightmare isn’t over yet. The infected mothers’ newborns appear to be normal. But as the years go by, Bill and Lauren Curtis begin to worry about their beautiful, healthy daughter Jodie. Jodie is drawn to the town’s “special” children, the ones whose mothers were bitten. They’re reaching adolescence now. Their hormones are raging. And they’re starting to possess strange appetitites . . .
If you thought millenials werea pain, just wait until you meet Generation Z.
“An unrelieved orgy of sadism.”
—Variety on Night of the Living Dead
EPIDEMIC OF THE LIVING DEAD, by John A. Russo, is a novel that goes further than the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, in this new incarnation of zombies. Still wary from the zombie plague that hit the nation, the small town of Chapel Grove, PA largely keeps to itself, in the hopes of evading an outbreak of their own.
“Families had always and forever been besieged by terrible problems and insidious evils . . . The Plague of the Living Dead was only the latest horrible manifestation.”
What most people are unaware of is that a small control group–in the guise of the Chapel Grove Medical Research Institute–is studying these mutations in a quest to come up with a cure. While their methods would be considered, at best, controversial, they are cloaked by a highly secretive team of players. Ethics go out the window in their rationalization that they are acting for–(their own inflated egos)–the better good of all mankind.
“. . . They were like organ donors but in a more generous way . . . “
Then we have Detective Bill Curtis and his wife, Lauren, who are anxiously awaiting the birth of their child, after numerous miscarriages.
When infected needles get out from the institute, Bill and his team work quickly to contain the sudden outbreak. While largely successful, they now face a new dilemma: what to do with the seemingly normal and healthy newborns born to the mothers who were bitten and infected?
The head of the research institute is quick to come up with the answer.
Adopt them out to unsuspecting families, and keep them monitored as they grow.
“. . . we don’t need evil spirits to make us do evil. We come up with plenty of it on our own.”
In the beginning of the new outbreak, I had a little difficulty in getting involved mentally with the characters presented. Some of the conversations they had and the choices they made just didn’t strike the right chord of believability with me. They seemed more “forced”, and I felt too unbelievable for the rest of the town to go along with. However, as the story progressed, I got more and more involved in their lifestyle, and could honestly say that in their place I would most likely have gone along with things as they were, living an “ordinary” existence along with my family–hoping to leave past events buried in the past.
“. . . Fanatical religion was to blame for much of the evil in the world . . . Meanwhile, Satan got blamed for the evil in the hears and minds of men.”
Russo then begins to really amp up the tension as the children grow up. We become privy to more suspicions and behind-the-scenes information as the town continues on, just like any other place would. We are given a few seeds of suspicion to plant in our minds, but nothing concrete. In my personal opinion, the more a novel makes you think on your own about the possibilities of what may or may not be happening, the better the connection and more lasting impression it is going to leave the reader with.
“. . . beneath the surface they might be anything but normal.”
Overall, I feel it was the anticipation, the NOT knowing exactly what was going to happen, that made this novel stand out more. By the time things begin to take shape and solidify our “guesses” into answers, the pace is so frantic that there is no taking your eyes off the pages until you’ve finished. After a slightly predictable start, this novel turned around and ended up giving me something I hadn’t expected.
“. . . It’s hard to have faith in the future.”
About John Russo
John Russo is an American author, screenwriter and film director most commonly associated with the 1968 horror classic Night of the Living Dead. As a screenwriter, his credits include Night of the Living Dead, The Majorettes, Midnight, and Santa Claws. The latter two, he also directed. He has performed small roles as an actor, most notably the first zombie who is stabbed in the head in Night of the Living Dead, as well as cameos in There’s Always Vanilla and House of Frankenstein 1997. John Russo has authored over fifteen terror-suspense novels, including Living Things, The Awakening, Voodoo Dawn, and Inhuman. His nonfiction books Scare Tactics and Making Movies are considered bibles of independent filmmaking by film students and horror fans. He is also the founder and one of the co-mentors, along with Russell Streiner, of the John Russo Movie Making Program at DuBois Business College in DuBois, Pennsylvania.