Review: The Undying by Ethan Reid

undying

About The Undying

THEY HAVE COME FROM THE STARS… In this riveting apocalyptic thriller for fans of The Passage and The Walking Dead, a mysterious event plunges Paris into darkness and a young American must lead her friends to safety—and escape the ravenous “undying” who now roam the crumbling city.

Jeanie and Ben arrive in Paris just in time for a festive New Year’s Eve celebration with local friends. They eat and drink and carry on until suddenly, at midnight, all the lights go out. Everywhere they look, buildings and streets are dark, as though the legendary Parisian revelry has somehow short circuited the entire city.

By the next morning, all hell has broken loose. Fireballs rain down from the sky, the temperatures are rising, and people run screaming through the streets. Whatever has happened in Paris—rumors are of a comet striking the earth—Jeanie and Ben have no way of knowing how far it has spread, or how much worse it will get. As they attempt to flee the burning Latin Quarter—a harrowing journey that takes them across the city, descending deep into the catacombs, and eventually to a makeshift barracks at the Louvre Museum—Jeanie knows the worst is yet to come. So far, only she has witnessed pale, vampiric survivors who seem to exert a powerful hold on her whenever she catches them in her sights.

These cunning, ravenous beings will come to be known as les moribund—the undying—and their numbers increase by the hour. When fate places a newborn boy in her care, Jeanie will stop at nothing to keep the infant safe and get out of Paris—even if it means facing off against the moribund and leaving Ben—and any hope of rescue—behind.


About the Author

Ethan Reid received his BA in English with Writing Emphasis from the University of Washington and his MFA from the University of Southern California's MPW Program, where he studied under author S.L. Stebel, Oscar-nominated screenwriter Sy Gomberg, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Frank Tarloff.

Born in Spokane, Washington, Ethan is a member of the Horror Writers Association, the International Thriller Writers and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Ethan currently lives in Seattle, with his wife and son.

website: http://ethanreid.com/


My Thoughts

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for a review.)

Trapped in Paris following a New Year's catastrophe that brings with it the undead apocalypse, American art student Jeanie is forced into a frenetic struggle for survival. At her side is her best friend, Ben, and their French friends Zou Zou and Farid. While meteors fall, devastating the City of Lights, the small band of compatriots brave their way through riots, the French Underground, and monsters, both human and the undead, in an effort to evacuate.

The Undying is the first acquisition by Simon451, a new Simon & Schuster imprint focused on speculative fiction. With Ethan Reid's debut, I'd say all is off to a pretty solid start.

My favorite element of this story, hands-down, was the setting. Having our American leads stumble their way through the foreign city of Paris was a brilliant gamble, and a refreshing change of pace from the typical, beleaguered US of A. I also appreciated that particular brand of Parisian strength and confidence that Reid imbued Zou Zou with, and she felt exactingly French to me. Also well-done were the moments of contempt that Europeans tend to harbor for Americans, and it didn't take long for minor characters to take their cheap shots toward Ben, who himself possesses a wild streak of American superiority. This infusion of clashing cultures really helped to heighten the tension and stress of their predicament, and helped drive home the point of just how out of their element Jeanie and Ben were. Strangers in a strange land, indeed!

In addition to the setting, Reid also creates an intriguing creature with the moribund, a half-dead beastie that straddles both the vampire and zombie trappings, creating a sort of The Strain by way of The Walking Dead feel. If I had one central complaint to make about this book, it is that we don't get to see enough of these monsters. For much of the first half of the book, we're left to wonder if these are merely figments of Jean's stressed-out mind, as she is not only embroiled in this epic disaster scenario, but also mourning the loss of her father. When it becomes apparent that their problems are only increasing, and that the monsters are a very real, and very mysterious, trouble, the book is almost finished. With a fast-paced and bloody finale, set against the iconic Louvre, Reid delivers a solid finish, having spent ample time tearing down his main cast, sending them to hell and back, and rebirthing them into a changed, firey landscape.

The Undying is a smart mish-mash of apocalyptic disaster fiction crossbred with a not-quite vampire horror. There's some rich characterization, with a lot of natural growth and personal reveals occurring the course of the story's run, and the human elements shine true. Word has it that Reid is working on the follow-up for a 2015 release, and you can guarantee I'll be reading it to find out what comes next for the survivors and the omnipresent threat of the moribund.

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Michael Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.


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