Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Review: Mercy

Title: Mercy
Author: Joshua Grover – David Patterson (Author's site)
Genre: science fiction
Price: $2.99 (Kindle) - other formats available
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Point of Sale: Amazon Author's site
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib

Here at POD People, every week we get from 5 to 10 requests to review self-published works. Since this is not anybody’s full-time gig, we simply can’t accept all of those books for review. But even if we could, it’s usually clear to me at least from the query letter which books aren’t going to be worth the review. The queries are poorly written, and usually the story outlined is the same generic stuff that I’ve seen dozens of times. It’s easy for me to take a pass on those.

Then we get something interesting and different, of which David Patterson’s book Mercy is a good example. The book is the journal of Georgina Fulci, a wife and mother. Her husband Rob gives it to her so that when she gets back from her missionary trip to Ethiopia, she can tell a coherent story. Unfortunately for Georgina, on the way back, her plane crashes on a deserted island in the Atlantic. The reason for the crash? A zombie outbreak.

This crash sets up a very interesting Lost meets The Walking Dead story, as the handful of non-zombiefied people struggle to survive the rigors of the island, the zombies from the plane, and figure out what the hell is happening in the rest of the world. This is a small spoiler, but when a boat finally shows up, it’s not at all clear whether that’s a good or a bad occurrence.

What impressed me most about Mercy was Patterson’s characters. There are a handful of non-zombies, including an 11-year-old girl and a flight attendant who was looking forward to retirement. All of these characters are well-defined, believable and people I found myself caring about.

I also liked the journal format. It’s hard to generate suspense in first person narration (I know – been there, tried it and got the T-shirt) but Patterson pulls it off. Tricks like a journal entry that read in their entirety: “We lost [character name]. I just wanted to make sure the date was written down somewhere” can be very powerful.

The only nit I have was that there aren’t a lot of small and uninhabited islands in the Atlantic, so part of me was trying to figure out “where are they?” Although in defense of Patterson, the efforts to figure that out by the characters is part of the story. At any rate, I found Mercy to be an outstanding read, and highly recommended.

Rating: 10/10

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