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Dead City
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"Dead City" is a very action centric zombie thriller that is heavy on shooting zombies and "close calls", but a little light on character development. This is an entertaining read for fans of the genera, but it is a little short.

No plot spoilers from me; the story centers around Eddie Hudson, a police officer who is trying to juggle the demands of being a husband with a new baby and the responsibilities of his job. Being a cop is hard enough when trying to maintain a normal family life, but add in a flood of refugees from areas hard hit by a string of powerful hurricanes, also infected with a unknown condition that quickly spreads through the population and causes a complete collapse of the city's infrastructure, really makes for a rough day.

I found the writing style to be easy to read and descriptive without bogging down the flow of the story. The character development was fairly weak, but enough that I cared about what happens to Officer Eddie and his family. The breakdown of society, rapid spread of the infection, and huge massed numbers of the zombies we see in the book are a little bit of a stretch, but this is zombie fiction and some measure of suspension of disbelief is required.

This was good enough that I picked up both of the other books in the series, Apocalypse of the Dead and Flesh Eaters.


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VINE VOICEon April 26, 2007
Dead City by Joe McKinney is an action packed zombie novel and a strong first novel. Dead City has all the action you could want out of a zombie book and the main character is pretty well fleshed out. If Dead City has any true weakness, it's the lack of depth in the setting and the story may be a little bit too straight forward.

The story follows Eddie, a San Antonio cop, as tries to survive the zombie hordes and tries to get home to his Wife and child. Along the way he has to overcome some hard decisions and at times trust people who he normally wouldn't.

Dead City scores big points for action and gore content. The action scenes are exciting; fast paced, and keeps the pages turning. Gore is frequent and vivid. I have heard others say that this would make for a great movie, I have to agree. With the amount of action, the compelling action, and the way each scene cuts away it would make for a great film. Hopefully, some day, we'll see a movie happen.

My only reservations about Dead City are that the setting is little blurry, characters beyond the Eddie are weak and it doesn't make you think. There is enough there that nothing seems out of context, but it also left me asking a lot of questions. Eddie is truly a great character, but beyond him, the rest are fairly uninteresting but serve a purpose. This is no philosophical zombie novel, that's for sure. It's not really required for a zombie novel to be a great read, but it is nice when you do read one that gets the brain ticking. These are all pretty minor issues and in fact may not bother many readers at all.

In the end Dead City is well worth a read for it's sheer master of action and gore in a zombie novel. I cannot think of a reason why a fan of zombie fiction would be disappointed with this book.
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on February 20, 2007
Eddie Hudson is a police officer in San Antonio dealing with something his years of training and time on the streets could never prepare him for. In this story by Joe McKinney we are thrust into Eddie's world as he is just discovering that the hurricanes to the south that ravaged Houston have uncovered some sort of virus that causes the dead to walk.

The story is told in first person as Eddie relates the challenges he faces in not only trying to get back to his wife and infant son but just survive as he battles through the night just trying to deal with and comprehend the onslaught of the living dead that want to tear him and every other living soul to pieces.

This is a very fast paced read and the gore is quite vivid. This book, more so than many others I have read in the genre, lends itself to becoming a movie because we smoothly cut from one action sequence to the next and the images are bright, raw, and easy to see in your mind. At a rapid fire pace we are taken from scene to scene and Eddie is joined by different secondary characters who are detailed but never overshadow him or his goal to save his family.

The book strikes the right chord for a story told in first person form. We are drawn into Eddie's world and the emotions he is feeling. From the sense of helplessness he has with one co-worker who is bitten and dying to exasperation with another who seems to be almost unphased by this incredible disaster.

Perhaps some of the secondary characters are not tremendously complex but given what type of story this is their depth is more than adequate. We do get some nice touches, such as a small part of the story where Eddie faces off against another cop whose father (also a cop) has been turned into a zombie. The son not only refuses to kill his father, he is willing to fight off Eddie to protect someone who means so much to him. Elements such as this make zombie stories so incredibly intense for me. The author understands some of the genuine terror we feel towards zombies is because they are simply not just alien monsters, they are us. They are our families, our friends.

While the ending of the books slows things down to an abrupt halt I cannot say it did not necessarily work here. Certainly the author could have kept the breakneck pace until the very end but at least in this way we are granted a complete conclusion to this story, for better or for worse.

If this is in fact Joe McKinney's first book as some of the other reviewers have mentioned I have to say it is certainly an auspicious start to what I hope will be a long and exciting career. This was a good and fun read and I look forward to more to come from this author.
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VINE VOICEon July 22, 2007
Sometimes I'm sure the average officer has one of "those days" when he/she wishes they could just stay at home and resolve some of those pesky issues while pretending to live a normal life. The things happening around the house that could use more contemplation, the argument that is stewing with the wife that would be better diffused over a nice cup of cuddle, the little matter of the undead brewing all over San Antonio and leaking into the better part of Texas; I'm sure, when putting on the uniform and looking at the badge, they really wish they sometimes wish they could leave the shiny little shield with all the street crimes and the 911 cries of "foul," keeping regular hours that allowed for regular lives. Yeah, sometimes it would be nice to just take out the flak jack and the shotgun, keep the sidearm and the shiny stick, and let the rest of the world fade into the background and bide some time. When a gang of rowdies break out in the middle of a nice suburbanite neighborhood it doesn't seem like life will ever deal that hand, however, and when the gang opts to start biting and spreading a pesky little problem it seems all-the-more hopeless. That's when one starts trying to reach for the stars, however, hoping beyond hope that the night will open onto something of a better day.

When I initially picked up Dead City and started reading it, I it had a few things going for it right off the bat. I liked the way McKinney engaged his audience with the officer with a family, and I also liked the fact that he opened up a door that could possibly be one of the worst things that could happen in that case. I've heard the adage "never go to sleep mad" when it comes to a lover, but to go into a zombie epidemic with the thought that you might not ever see your better half (and halfette) and the last thing you said was something left in anger? Well, that one is a bad one and goes well beyond angry. Add to that the fact that you are an officer, that you are under the assumption that "people are people" and that even the crazy ones need to get the non-lethal beanbag rounds, and you see how things could really go wrong from the start. I liked that part of the story, the humanity of it all, because it had a real feel that cuts past the masculine banter of many tales and talks about what would really happen.
Basically, chaos would ensue and the first-responders would become some of the initial wave

Another thing I liked was some of the things that happen outside of the "action." The "what-if" session we happen across as readers is interesting, where many a question is shuffled back and forth as one character asks another character (and vicariously the readers) all sorts of things to ponder. Is the virus inter-species, is there are zombie Shamu swimming around in Sea World, how does the virus spread, are all people able to be infected; there is one character that asks these and a drove of other questions and that conversation was worth my "fly on the wall" admission price. These ideas are shuffled along in the midst of running, too, so you have the same speed moving the same limbs through the same piece of night. The only difference in this book as opposed to others where running is administered is that the people pause to look - and to think. While that seems like it should happen often, it doesn't happen enough when detailing tales of zombies.

If you want a good hit-and-run zombie work, the plague churning and you knowing the deal, then this is a good playpen. It isn't bringing new stuff to the table, but most books dealing with the undead really don't. This does have some good stuff in it, enough to ignore a few broad generalizations and one annoying character with something of a deathwish, making it a nice read that doesn't pull punches. Even kids are thrown into the fray for good measure, and the speed of the book continues along an exhausting path.
Just remember that Dead City is meant literally; you are taking a twirl around a morgue that gets up and takes a jog. If that sounds like your type of book, then this is a good read with a brisk pace that asks you to enjoy the ride.
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on July 29, 2012
"Dead City" is the story of San Antonio police officer Eddie Hudson, who is equally dedicated to his job and his family. Faced with a disaster that produces unbelievable horror, he redefines and reinforces his life's beliefs. Many zombie stories focus on the gory aspects, spending most of the time describing, in gory detail, the desecration of the zombies and their victims. Joe McKinney includes enough detail to interest even the most jaded zombie junkie, but he offers equal time to philosophical observations of the consequences of the natural disaster that has taken over much of the Gulf Coast. One can only assume that the disaster is not quit over, leaving the specter of future catastrophe.

The book opens up with mundane details of an orderly existence, which soon evaporate into near panic. The tension quickly builds to epic proportions and never backs down. Clear your schedule, you won't want to put it down.
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on August 17, 2013
Fantastic book about a Cop that is trying to get home to his wife & child after all hell breaks loose & the dead come back to bite you. he goes through so much to get to those he loves. you'll just have to read it yourself to find out what he went through & if he ever makes it to his baby & wife! =~D you won't be able to put it down once you start so there's your warning! May become addicted to Joe McKinney as I have! This book is in process of being turned into a movie & I can totally see why! the characters are very real not made up & boasted to be the best in the world. it's not about who is the best but who has the smarts to last the longest!?! What would you do to get to your spouse & child(ren)?
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on March 9, 2015
Once I started reading this, I couldn't put it down. It was fast paced, and it was well written. It is a keeper for sure, and I can't wait to read the other Dead City novels. McKinney does a great job pulling you into the story and making you care about the characters. The whole time I was reading, I was watching the movie in my head, and to me that makes for a great book. I gave it 4 stars because of the ending. It was a little to cut and dry for me. He ends with the family going to a b&b and then it is 6 weeks later. I think he could have had a better ending, but overall, I don't think it took away from the story as a whole.
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on July 18, 2014
Joe McKinney has a great talent for "fleshing out" his characters - no pun intended. You can almost feel what they must be feeling whatever presents itself. He also writes well about the cities where he places his characters - great research, as well as, presumably, personal experience. It's obvious that his "day job" has provided him with a great deal of human experience with all walks of life. I didn't think that I could enjoy a book about zombies, but McKinney definitely has changed my mind. Write on, write on, Joe McKinney. There are many of your fans out there who can't wait for your next book!
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VINE VOICEon December 25, 2010
Yet another badly written zombie novel, full of amateur writing mistakes and a clear lack of a decent editor.

I understand that zombie horror is not expected to be a Masterpiece of Literature, but if you require polished prose, logical plot points, and good pacing, then this falls way short. All that can really be said about it is that it IS about zombies, and it's not the worst writing I've ever seen. But it's not really very good either.

Some things that I particularly disliked:

Obvious references to modern day zombie movies and zombie lore. This always bugs me - I prefer my zombie novels set in a world that doesn't know about zombies. I don't want the characters to discuss how amazing it is that George Romero predicted all this or to debate the philosophical ramifications of "zombie consciousness" as found on an internet discussion board. I was especially annoyed that one character in this book had "run" a website on zombies.

The use of the word "zombie." I know that's ironic, but I really prefer when then come up with something a little more original.

Surprisingly for a zombie novel, this one had a lack of scary tension. There weren't any of those moments when the character is going into the basement and you're screaming in your head for him not to go into the basement. It was just flat. Lots of gross descriptions of zombies, but they were unoriginal and just there for the gore factor. Nothing surprising, nothing that was really interesting. None of the situations encountered were anything but totally predictable and boring. I generally like when an author sticks to the formula, but there has to be some spark to keep me reading. There was nothing here.

The plot was weak. The main character is a cop who finds himself on duty in the middle of the apocalypse. He decides pretty quickly he needs to go home and save his wife and child, but he takes his sweet time getting there. Instead of going straight home, like any normal person would, he wastes a ton of time driving through the worst parts of the outbreak looking for, of all things, a firehouse. Because they might have a first aid kit there that can help his zombie-bitten friend, who he knows perfectly well is going to die. He's constantly taking detours - is that a cop car down there in the middle of a crowd of zombies? Better go take a look. He even spends a lot of time just kind of standing around thinking. It doesn't make sense.

All these things added up to really make it difficult to suspend disbelief while reading this book. I just couldn't get into it, and was so annoyed by all the amateur writing mistakes that I ended up not finishing it.
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on May 27, 2012
You know how clothing addicts have those 'I've nothing to wear!!!' tantrums whilst standing in front of an overflowing wardrobe? Well the other day I had a similar moment, replacing the wardrobe with my bookshelf, stamping my feet and saying 'I've nothing to read - I want zombies!!!!'. So I picked up my trusty e-reader and Dead City caught my eye.

Dead City is what I call a proper zombie book. Why? Because its action packed, gory, scary and creepy, the main characters are tough but flawed and people die. A lot.

Eddie is a cop, and whilst trying to deal with some problems at home, receives a call to investigate a disturbance in a local neighbourhood. When arriving he finds a whole bunch of people acting strangely....but within minutes the true cause of the disturbance becomes apparent - it's zombie time!

While he struggles to survive and move through the city he meets a bunch of different people who are also trying to ride out the zomb-apocalypse and get the hell out of town - but the zombies obviously have other things on their mind, and his journey is fraught with intense, life-or-death situations.

This is an action-packed book, there's very little 'down time' or intense dialogue - most conversations take place on the fly, whilst dodging zombies but the relationship building between the characters is done well considering the circumstances. I liked that Eddie wasn't super-cop, he screwed up and got scared, wasn't a crack shot with a pistol and had to rely on hard work and guts to get himself out of trouble. There is some information on the zombie-virus itself, but it's more the catalyst to the story than a part of it.

There are some slightly sexist connotations - the vast majority of the characters are male, and have some badly-disguised condescension for women, but it didn't bother me. There's also one slightly stereotypical moment involving a group of survivors that Eddie meets along the way, but again it was quite mild.

Did Dead City satisfy my zombie craving? Totally! It was everything I was hanging out for, but now that I've got a taste for it, I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

Favourite Quote: ''I refuse to let a bunch of zombies ruin the end of the world for me.''
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