Written by Brian Keene
Published by Delirium Books
Buy it from the Horror Mall here!
“Everything’s going to be okay.” Mike mopped his brow. “We outlasted them.”
Kyle didn’t respond.
The plant life continued rustling.
How, Mike suddenly thought. There’s no wind…
Brian Keene really is something else. The man almost single-handedly revitalized the zombie book with his modern classic The Rising
(which won a Bram Stoker award, the horror novel equivalent of an
Oscar), and he has become quite the prolific writer in the last few years.
He hasn’t stopped at at pumping out story after story after story, this
year alone having already released two novels (Kill Whitey and Dark Hollow)
of serious quality. But no matter what he does, it’s doubtful he’ll
ever release a bigger book than the one that made him famous in the
first place. This is his gift, this is his curse.
The simple synopsis of The Rising is that an experiment involving a particle accelerator (Keene’s a prophet, by the way)
opens some sort of rift into another dimension which allows demons
known as the Obot to come through and reanimate corpses. The dead soon begin
taking over everything and killing off every living person in order to
enable their brethren to come through.
The fact that these aren’t Romero zombies (instead being
demons that can think and speak and do every kind of horrible thing to
another person that a human is capable of), makes for a very thrilling and
scary and uncompromising story. Just imagine zombies with guns and a whole
military to exploit…. no shambling here! The Rising also affects
animals, as well…. so you can just imagine how hard it would be to
escape an event like that. Even in the barren wilderness you’d be at
The story was picked up right from where it ended in the sequel City of the Dead,
a book I enjoyed but not as much as I would have liked to. Perhaps it’s
because I loved the bleak, uncertain ending of the first novel, but it
almost felt unnecessary. Still, I can’t deny that he did some
interesting things in expanding the mythos. But some things that were only hinted at in City are only fully realized in this, his latest Rising book.
A word of warning- this book will utterly confuse you unless you’re familiar with the Rising
world. It’s highly suggested you grab the first book and its sequel
before diving in here. In his introduction to this book he admits a
reluctance to come
back to this world, but by the time you get to the end you’ll be glad
Selected Scenes from the End of the World takes
the main story from the other books and runs with it. The book is
actually a collection of 32 short stories, one a day following the
start of the Rising. This means that we’ve
got a pretty in-depth look at the timeline of events, allowing you to
see when things happened in relation to the story, and even what was
going on in different sections of the world. Avid readers will pick up
on lots of little tidbits, as a lot of minor characters and events from
are focused on here. It’s also pretty cool to see how the main
characters’ actions affected others.
These are very, very short stories (32 stories in 220 pages… you do
the math) but Keene’s knack for character helps keep things going
strong. He knows that just by fleshing out a person you become more
sympathetic to what’s about to happen to him or her, and even in these
tiny tastes of stories there’s depth and feeling, and some great
twists. It’s really a great measure of the man’s skill as a writer. The
variety here is terrific as well. Sure, the majority of them are
stories of people trying to escape the plague of zombies, but seeing
the way each person goes about it is what keeps things interesting.
If there’s another thing I’ve always loved about the man, it’s that
he’s got many of the same interests as me. He knows horror, video games
and metal, and doesn’t hesitate to include characters with the same
interests in his books. But every time there’s an obvious reference to
another work he’ll stop things to point it out. Perhaps it’s necessary
for the mainstream, but it’d be nice if once in a while he could just
let it slide and let it speak for itself. A couple of times I was pulled out of this book with such moments…
But his style really is just so accessible, fascinating, and most of
all, brutal. (really, really damn gory and brutal). But then again you knew that if you read his other books.
And if you have you will want definitely to read this, especially if you want to
see what goes on after City of the Dead.
In fact, the very last story starts up a whole other series of events
that will be explained in Keene’s upcoming series entitled The Labyrinth. He mentions in the afterward that this will be his Dark Tower, a series that brings together every one of his stories and explains everyone’s place in this mythos.
I can’t recommend this book enough for fans of The Rising, as it’s a perfect complement to the series.
(Side note: Keene’s also released a book of short stories releated to The Conqueror Worms,
but it’s currently not available in paperback because people don’t
think it will sell enough copies to warrent it. It’s a shame, because The Conqueror Worms might be his best work.)