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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 5, 2005
This sequel to The Rising doesn't exactly pick up where its predecessor left off--it actually starts a few minutes before, a handy recap I suppose for those who experience a timelag between the reading of these two books, which are more like halves of the same volume than discrete stories. I would not recommend reading this one without having read the one that comes before.

This one is perhaps a little more complicated and slightly less engaging than its predecessor, but it remains very entertaining. Keene has taken the zombie genre into some interesting alternate directions, drawing inspiration perhaps from the Italian zombie masters or from Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series. I admire the way he balances his apocalyptic subject matter with his highly sympathetic cast. There's plenty of mayhem here (and extremely graphic mayhem at that), but the story still has a heart.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2005
At the end of THE RISING, Jim had fought his way across several states through zombies and militia to try and reach his son. Just as the book stopped, we did not know what he found at his son's house. This book takes up just before the end of the first with a little repetition and we finally find out the status of Jim's son.

Right from the start Jim, Martin, Frankie and the rest of the party are on the run from organized zombies. We have zombies torching houses and mounting high-speed chases. This all gets Jim and company into a New York skyscraper reputed to be impenetrable. The part joins several hundred survivors in the building. Meanwhile Ob and the zombies are mobilizing on a grand scale. Their talk is to wipe out all humans so that the next wave can begin (plants and insects).

Death and gore are major parts of this book (as in the first). We learn a little more about the zombies and their purpose. The action builds and builds as the book enters the final phases. With only a dozen pages to go fates are still unknown and the reader has to go right to the final page. Unlike the first book, this does wind up the saga although many readers will probably not like the way the ending is handled. Personally I felt there could have been a few more pages or paragraphs at the end to fully close the book.

Still, the book was fun to read and it was a pleasure to find out how things went after the end of THE RISING. You are going to have to read it to find out what happens but I will warn you that at the very end you may not be completely satisfied.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2010
I did not care for The Rising but I thought I would read the second book to see how the story ended (since the first book kind of cheated you by ending without a resolution). Unfortunately this book was more of the depressing same and maybe a bit worse. The super intelligent demon-zombies (you know the kind that can talk, shoot guns, fly heliocoptors, make wisecracks etc.) and all of the demon-zombie animals (you know all of the dead birds, squirrels, rabbits, rats, alligators, etc.) kill off everybody. I mean, come on, people do not stand a chance in this scenario where every single thing that dies comes back as a demon-zombie and the book is just basically an excuse to gruesomely kill every character that is introduced. Depressing and unenjoyable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2009
Brian Keene is officially my hero. I'll get into that more in a little bit though. Remember Jim Thurmond? In The Rising, Jim traveled across five states to find his son, Danny. The ending of The Rising was left wide open, and the issue of Jim's son did not get resolved until this book.

The zombies, if we can even call them that, since they are actually demons possessing corpses. Basically, the demons want to kill every human on earth to make God mad and to punish him for sending them away. When a human dies, a demon crosses the void and inhabits the human. It can recall all the human's memories, which is how these zombies can drive cars and shoot guns and talk intelligibly. There are also zombie birds, which can strip a man to the bone in minutes, and zombie dogs and rats too.

Jim Thurmond and his party manage to make it to New Jersey, and then get rescued by the helicopter team employed by an eccentric billionaire who built a disaster-proof skyscraper in New York City. When the only humans left alive are in that building, the zombies prepare to wage war. Their plan cannot enter its second stage until all the humans are gone.

It is absolutely essential that The Rising is read first, otherwise nothing in City of the Dead will make sense. It's totally worth it though, since both books are awesome. The Rising did start off a little slow, but quickly picked up the pace until the last 250 pages were basically a tidal wave of blood, death, and horror.

Back to why Brian Keene is my hero: first, he employed zombie suicide bombers, which is an awesome idea, especially since zombies can't technically commit suicide since they are already dead; second, his zombies sang a paraphrased version of The Bloodhound Gang's "The Roof Is On Fire", a song that I've loved for a long time; and finally, because Brian Keene had the guts to end the book the way he did. I've been saying for years that someone should end a book that way, since it's so unexpected and shocking and not happily-ever-after, ride-into-the-sunset, and cop-outish like most horror books. The ending surprised me so much, and I'm so glad someone finally ended a book this way.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2011
I was pulling for the son and dad sooo much in this story that I tried to look past the weird zombie demons doing human-like stuff and throwing out cheesy one-liners. Zombie animals, zombie birds, zombie fish that can think, talk, and plot out attack scenarios = hard to suspend belief, even for a "zombie" book.

(possible spoilers)

There is no hope here. We are strung along through a series of demon zombie vs human battles (which the demons always win) and then our main characters are slaughtered one by one until all humans are dead and the world is over. YAY! I felt horrible for the little boy, who finally gets his dad back, only to lose him during the final confrontation... and then die himself immediately after.

The Keene format.
Page one. Zombies take over.
Page two. All humans die.
The end.
You just got "Keened"!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2010
The ending has been stated in some reviews and while I think that's an unfair thing to do in a review I will say that the ending left me completely angry. It was weak and it violated the characters in my estimation. I can only think that Keene must have somehow either painted himself into a corner or just got tired of writing the story. I read both of these books (The Rising and this one) over the course of a couple of days and I feel like I pushed through all the gore and horrible events depicted in these books only to be completely let down at the end. It's not just that "everyone dies" it's that their deaths are completely pointless and without any logic at all. Basically, I feel like the ending gives a big, middle finger to the rest of the story.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 19, 2010
I had my Iron Chef America moment and put this book down and walked away from the book, series, and author after one of the characters commits a sex act with a captive zombie. Over the line. Too much. Unnecessary. I read the first book in this series, The Rising, and liked it ok, even though I was not particularly thrilled with the possessed style of zombie and the concept of animal zombies. I always love the initial zombie outbreaks and the descent of civilization into chaos.

This book starts out ok with the end of Jim's quest to find his son. After that initial scene, the continuous gore did get tedious. When I reached the scene mentioned above, I stopped reading. I usually can't get enough of zombie stories, but this was more than enough. If you are looking for a good zombie read, check out J.L Bourne's Day By Day Armageddon, Recht's Morningstar Strain series, Brooks' World War Z, and Frater's As the World Dies series. Those are the best I've read so far.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2005
**Some spoliers ahead**

While I absolutely loved The Rising, I found City of the dead to be a copy of other zombie movies/books. While in the Rising this fact was also true, it was masked by the fact that Keene gave the audience a new angle on the zombie world by making his zombies intelligent and able to do things (like run and drive and organize) that had been the main drawbacks of zombies in the past (and the savior of most of the main characters...the only power of zombies was in their great numbers and ability to surprise).

But in this novel, Keene seems to forget (a little bit) about the new trail that he blazed in the first novel. Although the revealing that the zombies are actually deamons from another dimension was a very good twist, and the fact that he gives them a back story and even organization into different groups also adds to the book.

But then Keene runs dead into the wall that countless other zombie/horror writers have run into before: he creates a social criticism. Although this is an important part of many zombie works...IT'S BEEN DONE BEFORE. From 28 days later to countless others, the refugees of zombie attacks ALWAYS find someone in power who takes them in, goes nuts, and does something stupid to get all the people he's protecting killed. Keene does this as well, and I would've liked to seen something a little more original.

But the diologue was again very good as well as the first person details and descriptions provided by the deamon lord Ob. But the storyline up till the end was predictable and slow. But the ending was very well done and the religious undertones also added quite a bit to the ending. Not a bad read, but not as good or original as the first.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2006
City of the Dead can't really be called a zombie story. It's really a cheesy action novel that just happens to have beings called zombies in it. The zombie aren't really undead like in the Romero movies, but are corpses possessed by demons.

I really didn't find any part of the novel scary and it doesn't seem like the author was trying to make it scary. He seemed to take the route so many Hollywood scary flicks take and just tried to gross out his readers through descriptions of the decayed bodies of the demons.

The action is clunky and not very exciting. His hero's are constantly stopping to argue about things like how Jim's ex-wife raised their son while being hotly pursued by hundreds of demons. There are too many parts that require suspension of disbelief: a military Humvee could never catch an Explorer SUV, the hero's escape a fire by climbing across a ladder to the neighbor's house with the demons somehow not noticing, they're being chased by dozen's of demon vehicles on the road but second's later after crashing they have somehow lost them. And I have to ask why Keene included the descriptions of Necrophilia in the novel.

In the end City of the Dead reads more like a cheesy Schwarzenegger/Stallone/Norris movie than a horror novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2007
I really enjoyed this book, the sequel to "The Rising". I have read a lot of horror over the years. This is certainly not the best written, the most unique, or even the goriest, but it is a fun ride. Lots of action, fairly skimpy plot, but loads of enjoyment. Keene knows how to write action, and he doesn't let up from the first to the last page. This book takes place immediately after the first book. It actually backs up a few moments. The story basically involves humanities last stand in a fortified high rise in New York City. We get a lot of new characters besides those who survived the first book, and we get to learn a lot more about the demons/zombies. The ending is a dark one and it may not be to everyone's taste. I liked it just fine. I get enough of the Hollywood happy endings in my movies, a nice bleak ending is refreshing. Pick up the Rising, and then grab this book.
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