The Undying by Ethan Reid
I really enjoyed the Undying. It’s an apocalyptic type story that (after a short prologue) starts in Paris on New Year’s Eve where a group of friends are dining together to bring in the New Year. Unfortunately things don’t go according to plan. Early in the evening a series of strange lights can be witnessed over the City – similar to the aurora borealis – and later on, as the 10 second countdown to the end of the year commences – all the lights go out and the City is plunged into darkness. The following morning it appears that things have not recovered, in fact things have deteriorated further.
Jeanie and Ben are over from America for the celebration. On the morning after the ‘lights out’ they begin to discover a little of the nature of what is actually happening and become witnesses to how incredibly quickly things can spiral out of control. The two friends are faced with a journey across Paris to try and find their friends and check out just what their chances of returning home really are. Of course there’s much more to it than that. Nobody really knows what’s going on, has there been an extinction level event? Conjecture seems to point in the direction of a large comet colliding with the planet causing a massive cloud of dust and dirt which blocks out the sun and which will eventually fall back to earth, this to be followed by searing temperatures and ultimately a new ice age! Not much to look forward to there then. On top of which people are panicking and/or turning to violence in their fear. And, as if that wasn’t enough something else seems to be stalking the streets – strange pale people, fast and strong who can invade your thoughts and manipulate your feelings and fears.
To break it down. There isn’t any world building necessary here. It’s Paris in the current day and age. This isn’t an alternate setting or a futuristic one. So, easy to picture and no need to elaborate further. The people – well, again, probably not the strong point of the book. Not in terms of me having any problems with them but more they’re not really the main focus either although that being said it is interesting to watch them start to pick at each other as their veneer of politeness wears thin and it’s also interesting to watch not just the friendships as they begin to unravel but also the dawning of realisation when a person’s true character breaks to the surface. I guess being in a life or death situation will without doubt clarify who your friends really are. The plot is the key to this story. It moves fast and is a basic survival story and a quest of sorts. There is also an additional element to the story when Jeanie ends up taking guardianship of a newborn baby. Why you may ask? She just seems to be compelled to do so.
I can see why there are comparisons to The Passage – although the stories are not particularly similar in anything other than that an unusual ‘child’ seems to have been born in amongst the chaos – perhaps a saviour of sorts. The strange others who now roam the city become known as the moribund. They seek out and kill other humans, seemingly to continue the spread of whatever infection it is they’re carrying.
Like I mentioned, I really enjoyed this. It’s a zombie type novel but with a few differences. It was interesting reading the story from the perspective of two people who are now in a foreign country during a disaster and watching the reaction and negativity of the people around them as they turned from mistrust to blame. I think the story really excels at showing how the two begin to feel a little like outcasts, even the inclusion of snippets of French throughout the tale – which I suppose if you don’t understand the language gives you a good feel for how these two must feel facing that language barrier during a monumental crisis! Plus, I enjoy a good survival quest and the groups journey across Paris is definitely interesting to read – particularly as they descend to the catacombs that run beneath the City.
I would point out that there are some scenes of violence – in case you’re a bit queasy.
On the whole a good read, not terribly deep and meaningful I suppose but definitely intriguing and I will without doubt continue with the series.
I received a copy of from the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
I’m also submitting this for my RIP event over at Stainless Steel Droppings.