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The Condemned, by David Jack Bell
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Delirium Books
Published: 2008
Review Posted: 4/24/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

The Condemned, by David Jack Bell

Book Review by Ray Wallace

Have you read this book?

Jett Dormer is a guy just trying to do the right thing in a world gone mad. He's got a wife and a young daughter to support. Bills to pay. All the usual pressures that many adults face in the modern world. He also has the guilt of his best friend Vince's death eating at him nearly every waking moment. Sleep offers no escape either as a grotesque parody of Vince often visits him in his dreams. You see, the city where Jett and Vince once lived was the target of a terrorist attack. A poisoning of the water supply killed many and forced what survivors there were to flee in droves. Now the place is all but abandoned accept for the City People, zombie-like creatures transformed by whatever chemical agent was used in the attack. Now the country is at war and in constant need of supplies to feed the war machine's insatiable hunger. Among these supplies is scrap metal which can be used to build new weapons so that the fight can continue. It is Jett's job to drive a wrecker into the city and collect the abandoned cars which litter the streets, a fine source of free scrap metal, all the while avoiding contact with any of the often aggressive City People that now call the place home.

Jett and Vince were partners. And they were the best at what they did. None of the other teams that went into the city could put up their numbers. But one day there was a problem, a run-in with the City People -- who usually lie dormant during daylight hours -- and Jett came back alone. Now there are the nightmares and the blame that Vince's wife has heaped upon him for her husband's death. But is he really dead? Jett isn't so sure. Maybe he's still alive in there, somewhere deep in the city. Maybe he's one of the City People now. If so, then Jett feels it is his duty to help his friend in any way he can.

Enter the Kid. An injured veteran of the war Jett retrieves cars to support, The Kid is given to Jett as his new partner and it isn't long before Jett realizes that the young soldier is a bit of a loose cannon (i.e., mentally unstable). The Kid has his own theories about what really happened to the city. Maybe foreign terrorists weren't responsible. Maybe there were other, more nefarious reasons behind the poisoning of the water supply and the creation of the City People. Not given to conspiracy theories, Jett still finds himself drawn into the Kid's crazed ideas which, after some investigation, don't seem so crazy after all. The only way to discover the truth, Jett eventually realizes, is to travel deep into the city where maybe some answers and his long-lost friend await.

The Condemned offers an interesting little twist on the zombie story. There is some level of mystery to the plot even if it is a bit linear. The characters are well drawn and the atmosphere is suitably dark. Overall, a well executed effort that will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the zombie sub-genre even if The Condemned is not, strictly speaking, a zombie novel..
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