This review first appeared in Sunday Mid Day dated 4 November, 2012
Zombies have become a popular part of our collective cultural consciousness and are quite literally taking over the world in Mainak Dhar’s new book, Zombiestan. Reading the synopsis makes you feel like you’re watching the trailer of a post-apocalyptic film, the only difference being that this one brings the Hollywood staple to India.
A terrorist plan gone awry unleashes a plague of zombies onto a world that doesn’t know what hit it. In the midst of this bloodthirsty invasion, a ragtag bunch of people – a US Navy SEAL, two Delhi teenagers, a three-year-old boy and an elderly history professor – may be the only ones who can save the world. As they make their way to a rumoured safe house in the mountains of Ladakh, they not only have to battle the undead but also a horde of self-serving humans.
Add a background score and you’re watching a zombie film. You can imagine how the author visualised the breakneck action sequences because you can picture them too. The book presents a realistic reaction to the pandemic and does a good job of intersecting the present-day conflict of terrorism with faddish zombie lore. The action-packed, well-paced plot is paired with a niggling sense of dread that follows you throughout the book. Dhar doesn’t allow his characters to fall into convenient plot holes; he barrages them with all the bad luck they can handle. The interactions between the characters are interesting but some are more fleshed out than others. Dhar also comments on human nature by portraying people who degenerate into the worst versions of their race when faced with conflict.
It makes for a gripping read not only for the young adults it targets but also for fans of action, bloodthirsty mayhem and zombies.
Price: INR 199
Publisher: Duckbill Books