Saturday, October 8, 2011
Review of Soulless by Christopher Golden
Published: October 2008
Times Square, New York City. The first ever mass seance is broadcasting live on the Sunrise morning show. If it works, the spirits of the departed on the other side will have a brief window—just a few minutes—to send a final message to their grieving loved ones.
Clasping hands in an impenetrable grip, three mediums call to their spirit guides as the audience looks on in breathless anticipation. The mediums slump over, slackjawed—catatonic. And in cemeteries surrounding Manhattan, fragments of old corpses dig themselves out of the ground....
The spirits have returned. The dead are walking. They will seek out those who loved them in life, those they left behind...but they are savage and they are hungry. The horror spreads quickly, droves of the ravenous dead seeking out the living—shredding flesh from bone, feeding . But a disparate group of unlikely heroes—two headstrong college rivals, a troubled gang member, a teenage pop star and her bodyguard—is making its way to the center of the nightmare, fighting to protect their loved ones, fighting for their lives, and fighting to end the madness.
When I first saw this on a library Zombie list, I was sure it had been mislabeled simply because the title didn't bring Zombies to mind. The blurb is what did it for me. Golden seemed to have a truly unique concept as to the origins of the Zombies.The idea of Zombies being brought back by a seance only made this even creepier for me, solidifying my absolute certainty that I will never be involved in any seance or use a Ouija board.
These Zombies truly are an uprising, brought back to speak to their living relatives, to gain closure, but their bodies are empty, and their pure souls gone for good. At first they seem pretty typical, simply saying things like "I'm so empty" or "Hungry". It after the Zombies have been around a bit longer that they turn from hungry to vicious. Their spirits hunger to see those familiar to them, and they seek out their loved ones, and it's this same awareness that allows them to remember details of relationships and try to use that to gain access to the flesh their bodies crave. One of the saddest scenes is where a father dies and rises as a zombie, trying to trick his daughter into letting him in and when she does he starts berating her for the choices she made in life.
The violence in this story isn't overwhelming, but Golden also doesn't water it down for us. We get what we need to in order to understand the horror of what they are seeing. There are moments where the state of the Zombies and what they are doing is important to the story and he goes with it, giving us the blood and gore that Zombies bring with them. At others, he keeps it simple and focuses on the emotional ride the characters are on. It's a wonderful balance.
The only aspect of the novel that I didn't like was the constant changes in point of view. I didn't mind the different groups of people, but there were so many main characters it was hard to connect with some of them, in fact with the characters Nate and Matt, I kept having to go back to where they were first introduced in order to figure out who was who. I would have preferred if Golden had picked one character from each group to focus on.