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The Alpha Plague: A Post-Apocalyptic Action Thriller Kindle Edition
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The book takes place in the near future. There's a cold war between East and West. Weapons are banned worldwide, so not even the police have guns. An evil (and he is evil) scientist develops a plague to wipe out the East, but the East somehow finds out about it and unleashes it on England instead. And there you have it. Once again, evil men are intent on destroying the world for their own purposes. As usual, nothing goes according to plan. Of course, without these evil, stupid men, we wouldn't have zombie stories.
Rhys and Vicki both work in Summit City, which is a huge government complex. Alpha Tower is the headquarters and no one knows what goes on there--until now. The entire complex is locked down when the virus is released, but not soon enough. Rhys and Vicki see people start to eat each other and begin their flight to get out. Their desperate running (and running and ...) to get out is described in perfect detail so that the reader can see the obstacles they face, feel the sweat running down their faces, and can hear the zombies closing in on them. You can also easily imagine their exhaustion and the pain in their bodies as they kept running.
The zombies aren't typical. They show some characteristics that Rhys is very surprised about.
I liked everything about this book until the end when Rhys makes an incredibly stupid decision that puts not only his life on the line, but that of all England, as well. The reason he makes the decision is completely emotional and also totally stupid. I know this decision is responsible for creating the scenario for the next book, but that doesn't make it any less stupid. Up until this point, the book is definitely five stars, but I have to take it down a notch for the ending. You can't be dumb in the zombie apocalypse.
Rhys works in a numbered tower on an island where the British government has centralized. He sits in a cubicle, monitored to optimize his efficiency. His goal in life is to gain custody of his six year son; a battle that has lasted many years.
The Alpha Tower, central in a mass of otherwise identical towers, sparks endless theories of what happens within. However, what is really happening is biological research for warfare. Set loose by terrorists, the virus triggers lock down in all the buildings on the island, and people outside the buildings are rapidly infected.
Rhys, along with a young woman, Vickie, who knows more than she's saying, escape the initial hysteria. Rhys wants to get off the island to find his son and convinces Vickie to help.
British zombies are pretty much the same as zombies of other nationalities. While they provide the impetus for Rhys and Vickie to keep running, this story is more about what a father will do ensure the safety of his son. Vickie is along to provide encouragement, the occasional plan, and an additional bat to take out the infected.
The story starts out with what this reader feels is an interesting premise. What would one do if trapped and unable to escape ground zero? The safety precautions means anyone in a tower can't get out to help, and those outside can't get in to relative safety. The island is rapidly being isolated from the mainland, and even those unaffected are going to be trapped.
The character of Vickie is described as a blond, tall, slim runner; obviously being set up to be someone's love interest. Rhys is described as a typical cubicle worker: overweight and out of shape. Vickie gives the impression she would easily be able to escape through speed, if nothing else. Rhys is taxed running part way across an open square where he had stopped for lunch.
Rhys chases after Vickie when she saves his life, and Vickie isn't interested in stopping. Rhys manages to get Vickie to allow him to least travel together. This is where the story begins to wander away from the believable. Rhys magically morphs from a stumbling office worker to a fairly competent parkour practitioner in less than twenty-four hours. He climbs flights of stairs, although not particularily fast and needing breaks, jumps from rooftop to rooftop on only the encouragement from Vickie, outpaces mobs of zombies, and while using a bat to literally brain zombies, never misses. In the same twenty-four hours, Vickie changes from a woman very clear about only being interested in saving herself to one who helps Rhys to get off the island and helps while Rhys searches for his son.
Having all this happen in twenty-four hours is not a bad plot device, but in this case it suffers from the unbelievable improvement in Rhys. This reader admires the character of Vickie--self-centered and proud of it--who only reluctantly agrees to let Rhys inhabit the same general area in which she stands. Unfortunately, she also rapidly changes from a strong woman intent on escaping no matter what to a woman who no longer has any plans, and needs rescuing. There are occasional sparks of independence, but as the story continues it becomes Rhys-centric with Vickie in the supporting role of doing what he says. Certainly fear and adrenalin drive the opening of the story, but it can be hoped that in future books Vickie becomes more of an equal character.
The book is a quick read, with plot covering only the first twenty-fours of the outbreak. There are four additional books available at this writing, so there is plenty of room to more develop the characters.