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  • Flu
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on July 29, 2010
The zombie genre offers a lot of choices these days, with a few gems like Wayne Simmons' FLU that really stand out. I eagerly anticipated this one and devoured it within days of its delivery. The apocalypse is well explained, the characters behave realistically in realistic conditions, I actually get to know and care about the people involved, the action is engaging, and enormous stakes are presented that kept me reading to the end. FLU is a must have for readers who love the apocalypse, especially the zombie kind.
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on September 3, 2010
I finished this title last night, and must say I really enjoyed it. It has been 18 months since I last read a new zombie novel, but I'm glad I picked this one up. It has a very dynamic story line. I liked the beginning that quickly throws you into the action with an interesting and diverse set of characters. The Irish setting, with the shadow of 'The Troubles' and the IRA, etc was inspired. The ending sets up the possibilty of a sequel - which would be no bad thing. I think I'd buy it!

If I had any criticise for the book it's that it possibly missed the opportunity to open up the story on a wider canvas. It keeps to quite a small set of characters, in a limited number of locations. I found it interesting when the story touched upon the military involvement, and I think there was scope to spend some time showing how the government and military all over Ireland were coping with the outbreak. Also, two sets of unrelated characters ending up at the same flat in the finale seemed a tad contrived. I wasn't mad on the idea of the little girl's significance either - Too 28 weeks Later. On a final personal note, everyone being a fine shot with a Glock 17 erked me a little, with a slight lack of realism that (a) it's really hard to hit moving 'head' target with a handgun with any accuracy and (b) the characters weren't deaf from all that shooting!

Small gripes aside, this is one of the better zombie novels I've read and I would recommend it. Clearly Simmons is an emerging talent, and has a bright horror writing future.
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on February 11, 2013
Yet another zombie book under my belt. Lately I've been a bit obsessed with this genre and recently started to think of moving on to something else, but decided to stick to it for a few more books. And I'm glad I did since Flu was next on the list.

This was a quick and light read (that is if you can use word "light" when describing a zombie novel). It is definitely one of the dark novels and contained no humor, like some zombie books do. It covers several stories of various flu survivors in Ireland who try to stay alive while more and more people around them get infected.

Actually the fact that Flu is based in Ireland is a huge plus for me. For some reason I prefer stories taking place somewhere other than US, since it gives me an insight to other countries and cultures. It proves that people would behave differently depending on their background and how they grew up. I really like reading about the bad blood between IRA and Irish police/military. I of course knew about it before, but would never think how deep it would go. Even with the world crumbling down around them there is still huge suspicion of police and military. I don't think that if this story took place in US that cops would be hated and mistrusted so much. Quite an interesting point of view in my opinion.
One of the reason I removed a star is due to the fact that Wayne Simmons is one of those authors who could very easily kill off a character as soon as you get used to them. I realize a lot of authors do it and it adds to the excitement, but I dislike that a lot. Again this is totally my personal preference. I just love to be emotionally invested in the character. However, if this is not an issue for you, than it shouldn't stop you from getting this book.

I have to add however, that even though every character is fair play, Simmons does a beautiful job of a very short character development. Meaning even though he is not using 10 pages to describe the person, from few short paragraphs you can sort of judge their character pretty well. This is definitely a talent that I really appreciate in this particular book, which covers several stories and drown out character development would have been an overkill.

One other small gripe I have with the book is the lack of background story on the virus itself. We know nothing about where it came from or even if it started in Ireland. I personally enjoy the tale behind the infection, first hours, the beginning of the end. This was missing in this story. I'm currently reading the second book in the series called Fever and that's where Simmons gives us the beginning. But while reading Flu I had no idea about that and so was a bit disappointed.

In conclusion this is all around good zombie read which I highly recommend.
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Wayne Simmons, Flu (Snowbooks, 2010)

I get that damn shot every year, and for what?

I have seen a few reviews of Wayne Simmons' Flu that take it (and him) to task for not pushing the envelope here. Most of those reviews gave no indication if the reviewer in question had read Simmons' first novel, Drop Dead Gorgeous. If they had, well, I can kind of see where they were coming from--for that is very much a book that pushed the envelope, zombie lit-wise, and to this day it's one of my favorite novels in the new wave of zombie lit. And no, Flu is not that. It's a straight-up homage to classic zombies.

You know what? I don't have problem one with that. Drop Dead Gorgeous is what it is, and if Wayne Simmons had never written another word, I would have still been praising him as one of the most original lights in the genre. But Flu is what it is as well, and when it comes right down to it, style will out--Simmons is a good, solid writer, and it doesn't matter if he's pushing envelopes or not. Hell, he could write a chick-lit novel and I'd give it a go, because I know it will have the same mix of quirky characters, graveyard humor, and situations that will make me say "what the hell were you smoking when you came up with this?", and I can be reasonably certain I'll have a great time with it.

Such is the case with Flu, which seems to have had its genesis (though we're only talking about the preface here) in Paco Plaza's flick [REC]; we see a couple of cops attempting to impose a quarantine on a block of flats where it's been reported that one occupant has come down with a particularly virulent strain of the flu that's been assaulting Ireland. And it's not your run-of-the-mill flu, neither--after it kills the victim, it wants to spread itself by having the victim rise and spread the infection...

skip forward a few weeks, and Belfast is, for all intents and purposes, destroyed. We re-focus on Geri McConnell, a lone survivor who's taken to moving very quietly, attempting to survive by raiding the local grocery stores and staying out of the way of hordes of the ravening undead...until she finds herself raiding the same grocery store as another obviously-human raider wearing a ski mask. (Trust me, the ski mask becomes important.) After one of the more amusing car-chase scenes I've read in recent memory, Geri becomes--uncomfortably--part of a band of survivors who are, basically, living the same way she was--but there's strength in numbers, right? Right?

I'll lay it out for you: if you like zombie novels in the classic zombie vein, <em>Flu</em> is going to work for you. Simmons leavens things with a little more humor than, say, John Russo did, but the focus is the same--the zombies are the external force, seen every once in a while, that keeps the survivors face-to-face with one another, leading the book to be more of an examination of human foibles exposed when people are cramped together than a book about the undead munching on body parts. And that's what zombie books, the good ones anyway, have always been about--us, not them. *** ½
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I read some of the other reviews on this book and rechecked to make sure we had read the same book. Yup! I like zombie books (most of them) and I love post apocalyptic books (most of them). But this was a yawner to me. I didn't find anything new in the plotline and it was very disjointed; the characters were trite and one-dimensional; the settings boring and used before in better books.

I did LOVE the cover, which is why I bought this book. Too bad the inner material didn't live up to the advertising.

If you want to read some great zombie books try Run by Blake Crouch (one of the BEST of any book I've read); World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks; or Feed (Newsflesh, Book 1) by Mira Grant (exceptional). Even Sparrow Rock by Nate Kenyon and One by Conrad Williams were FAR better than "Flu." Too bad.
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on January 20, 2013
I am a big fan of post apocalyptic books. I have read many different takes on zombies. This book starts off with police officers going into houses in order to quarantine flu victims. I live in the United States, and this book is told from an overseas perspective. I believe the author is Irish. Some of the themes were unique to this perspective. The characters are different because of this as well. I felt many emotions while reading this book. Some of the action scenes were written well, but I felt that some of the book was confusing. I really liked the characters and the story. I thought that it was interesting, and I thought that the epidemic was unique. It kept my interest, and I had a hard time putting it down once I got into it!

Although I had some problems understanding where it was going at times, I enjoyed this story. It had some parts that were claustrophobic! It was bloody and scary. The characters seemed realistic. These were not saints that make every right decision!
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on December 24, 2014
Great zombie plague book! I was reluctant at first, but the more I read the more I enjoyed it. The story line flowed very well and the characters meshed well together. I recommend this book to anyone who read the project Eden series by Brett Battles!
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Wayne Simmons has returned with another tale of the apocalypse that transports the reader back to the streets of Belfast, Northern Ireland, much like he did with Drop Dead Gorgeous, although this tale is very much distinctly different in its approach to the dead who rise up in the story. IN DDG, the undead are VERY unique and take most of the story to appear-perhaps they are not even undead, as it were, given how they act and react. Much will be revealed in the sequel to that tale, I would gather, as the reader is left with something of a mystery on their hands after book one as to what to expect from them...a good, intriguing mystery, mind you.

Flu is, in many ways, a more 'traditional' tale of the dead rising. The premise here is a flu that rips through the populace, putting down almost everyone as it goes airborne. The police cannot handle it, nor the army, but they are doing their grim best to quarantine the initial victims of the outbreak in a way that I found to be quite disturbing. Those afflicted by the flu don't rise immediately-at least not at the beginning of the story, but it does not take long for it to be clear that we are dealing with a zombie outbreak as we see one body rise in a tenant where the police can barely contain the rioting citizens. After that, we skip ahead six weeks and discover that the city of Belfast is a wasteland, with few survivors and undead numbers growing exponentially.

Wayne brings the reader back to his little corner of the world and makes it as detailed and vital as he did in DDG. We again are introduced to characters who were immersed in the 'troubles' of that area-policemen, the military, and a member of the IRA, whose past existences haunt them and impact how they try to survive through this horrible reality they find themselves in. They are not the only characters, as Wayne doesn't scrimp on the introduction or development of others, including a heavily tattooed and pierced character named Lark and his buddy McCall, who inject some color into this new world of death and mayhem, alongside the beautiful Geri, who share time with cops George and Norman and Pat, an IRA operative who has taken it upon himself to protect a naive girl he's found in the aftermath of the apocalypse, Karen. We also get to see some things going on behind the scenes with the military, although our time with Major Connor Jackson and Dr. Miles Gallagher, two men at crossed purposes, is limited in this book-just enough for us to guess at what grim possibilities await the other survivors in a sequel to this novel.

The bottom line is that this is a richly developed story with characters that you can love or hate based on the depth with which they are developed. My criticism, which is minor, has to do with the fact that the action is limited because of the detail with which all the characters are given. Don't get me wrong, the story moves forward, it is just not at a lightning pace. I am guessing that the author is setting the reader up for a thrill ride of a sequel that is less heavy on character development and more on action, as is often the case with sagas such as this. Honestly, I can't say it is really a criticism that is heavy, because I think when this tale is complete, after two or three books, we will see something that is vibrant with characters that fascinate as well as action that resonates. Good stuff, and again, Wayne Simmons does not disappoint.
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on March 11, 2013
This book makes you second guess your every cough, sneeze, etc. not a book to read while you are sick! lol very unique characters in the book! Has a few that make you think if you could just reach through the book you would hug them & protect them w/everything you have or the few that you might could just slap a couple of times & some that you might help feed to the zombies! Doctor Psychopath would be my top choice! Guess you'll have to read the book to find out why!?! very awesome Book Mr. Simmons!! ENJOY!
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on November 5, 2012
After reading Drop Dead Gorgeous by Wayne Simmons, I was keen to get started on Flu, another post-apocalyptic zombie tale set in Simmons' native Belfast.

On the face of it, Flu appears to be a bog-standard zombie book; and to a certain extent, that's true... there's an outbreak of an unidentified virus, all hell breaks loose, authorities try to quarantine, disparate groups of survivors, etc... but to leave my critique of Flu at that would simply not be fair and similarly to Drop Dead Gorgeous, Flu is set in Northern Ireland and once again it serves to provide a unique staging ground for the author's apocalypse to play out in.

Flu's characters are well-developed, human and entirely believable. However and more importantly, the characters in Flu are moulded by the unique circumstances afforded to them by the political and religious divisions within Northern Ireland, adding a compelling dimension to this above par genre offering.

Once again Simmons succeeds in creating a post-apocalyptic situation that feels grubby and real, his description of the characters' sensory experiences hammer home the state of affairs in which they find themselves in. When zombies are shot, brains and skull are splattered everywhere; when rotten flesh is disturbed, flies rise from feeding; and these are the tamer examples from the visceral episodes interspersed regularly throughout Flu. In fact, Flu MIGHT be a little too real for some readers with plenty of profanity, drug use, strong horror and other parts of the plot which truly expose the darker side of human nature... but if you're of a delicate disposition, why are you reading horror?!

If you're looking for a run-fight-run zombie tale, this isn't it, fiends.

Although Flu has more than its fair share of disease, death and despatching of the walking dead, it is not the primary focus of the novel. This is very much a soid character-driven story that takes some of the extreme personalities forged in contemporary Northern Ireland and tosses them into the mix with a zombie apocalypse and observes the ensuing situation, highlighting how pointless their respective standpoints were before the zombie outbreak by emphasising that fact through their united struggle against the undead.

At one stage, I thought Simmons was going to take the easy way out and drift off into a written version of Day of the Dead, this fear was swiftly allayed and Simmons proceeds to deliver a bleak slice of horror that although set in Belfast like Drop Dead Gorgeous, is distinctly different and succeeds in creating a work of horror that strips away the niceties of societal constructs and lays bare the human condition, complete with all its fallacies, base desires and instincts.
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