Quiver (2012)

Sex :
Violence :
Author Jason Fischer Reviewer :   
Publisher Black House Comics
Length 496 pages
Genre Zombie
Blurb A novel about growing up fast in a world that doesn't want you to live


"I can walk on my own now, Simon, the brine stops hurting when it dries off." - Dr. Murray

One of the last remnants of the human race in Britain are dug in behind makeshift walls in the town of Gravesend, somewhere beyond the undead hell of London. Tamsyn is trying to survive the zombie apocalypse along with her father and a small cadre of friends. Her one claim to fame is archery, which is going to come in pretty useful. After a trip to London goes spectacular badly Tamsyn and her father find they are targeted by the powers that be in Gravesend. A mistake by Tamsyn will allow the zombie hordes to breach the walls and the town is doomed.

Escaping via ocean Tamsyn comes up with an audacious plan to cross the Atlantic to a community they have been welcomed to via a repeating message. After an encounter with a luxury yacht fill of the animated dead the survivors make landfall at Corpus Christi, a well established human enclave that has a solution to the zombie menace. Unfortunately the local Government have declared their independence from the United States which isn't going to go down well, as Tamsyn finds they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire of a three way conflict. From there things are going to get really problematic for Tamsyn and her fellow Gravesend survivors.

Quiver marks Black House's first foray into publishing the full length novel, the company of course is better known for solid comic series like The Dark Detective and Eeek!. Good choice for a genre by the way, zombies being all the rage currently, and likely to not diminish with this year's World War Z finally chomping into a cinema release. Now regular readers of Black House's magazine anthology series After The World will be aware of Jason Fischer's Tamsyn series and will have read the first half of the novel already in serialised form. As such I went with a few comments from across the ditch to ensure I wasn't overly influenced prior to reading the novel. Let's stop wasting space and get down to it.

First up Quiver takes it downtown with the zombie aesthetic and hits out in Romero land with the shambling flesh eaters generally overwhelming the human outposts by weight of numbers. So nothing new there really, but Author Fischer isn't leaving it swinging at air adding some solid new ideas to the zombie mythology. Over in Corpus Christi the locals have found a way of giving back some form of intelligence and life to the zombie via the infusion of salt! Naturally this has lead to the growth of pretty much a second class citizen and differing opinions as to the worth of the process. So, and without giving anything away, we have some very interesting ideas about the future benefits of being a zombie in terms of acceptance into human society and deteriorating physical condition.

Ensuring things go simply insane on the plot front; Jason Fischer moves the action across two continents, if we for the moment consider Britain as part of Europe, and into the Caribbean. So we kind of have a magical mystery tour of the post apocalyptic world. While this loses some ability to be impactful via the gradually whittling down of a single group of survivors, it kind of does happen - but Quiver has more new characters popping up than two seasons of The Walking Dead, it also allows Fischer to explore differing approaches to surviving the new world order. I particularly liked the representation of the U.S Federal Government; the world might have been overrun with the reanimated dead but of more importance is a breakaway rebel State!

The book is a big read that should have a few people squirming as the gore hits the page, but Fischer never drops his narrative edge from first page to last page. A solid example of decent writing in a ghetto sub genre Quiver kept my attention, and more importantly didn't bounce me off the page, as the journey went increasingly more surreal. There's a lot more going on here than simply a group of folks in an abandon farmhouse, and the Author nails the requirements to give the Reader an excellent experience that isn't going to overtax them on the philosophical front.

Comments from Sam: First up thanks for the book and a chance to write a few hundred words. Firstly I found the narrative disjointed. At a couple of stages in the book it seemed there were chapters missing, or the Author had put down the tale and then picked it up sometime after intervening events. While I wasn't about to let this halt my reading, I still felt some more time should have been spent in massaging the individual chapters into a more coherent whole. I was also left wondering if the people quoted at the start of the book had actually read it? I know we're being talking a lot recently about avoiding becoming "quote whores", and this would be a salient example in my opinion. Overall I had a decent enough time reading the novel, really liked the physicality of the actual package from Black House - nice hefty feeling without being weighty, and will definitely be ready to read, and review, Jason Fischer's next release.

The book is aimed at the teen to adult audience and should meet most requirements of those who want to crack open a ripper of a zombie yarn. There's enough meat on the bone to have you jiving to Fischer's beat, and enough in the new idea department to have you mulling over the possibilities of Fischer's "dead" world. There's room left at the end of the book for a sequel, so I'm saying that's a book we are going to need to have written sooner rather than later.

To sum up, I had a good time with Quiver and would recommend it to readers who like a good dash of pulp in their diets. So the book is never going to win awards, but awards I find are grossly overrated at the best of times, especially with the modern trend to getting the shortlists made up by the sort of people who are not the target audience of the books. Actually on that note I reckon we should have a scary awards thing, that could be frighteningly awesome. Anyways congratulations to Jason Fischer on an excellent first novel, let the creative juices flow and write us another one dude!

After a copy to get in with the cool kids and not be left out in after dinner literature discussions? Well set your browser to Black Boox and for the reasonable price of $22.95 AUD the novel will be winging it's way to your sticky fingers toot sweet. If after a teaser first then have a hunt around the site and check out one of the After the World releases.

Beyond Scary Rates this read as ...

  A zombie novel that tries something new, but which may have been hampered by it's serialised birth