"Rotter World" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Permuted Press
Written by Scott M. Baker
2012, 300 pages, Fiction
Released on March 30th, 2012
Dare I say it, but I'm pretty much burnt out of zombies in the media. It seems like everyone and their brother wants to make a zombie movie, write a zombie book or comic, or have a zombie television series, and it's pretty old at this point. There are exceptions, of course, like I will always have love for the classics like Dawn of the Dead and Return of the Living Dead and I'm eagerly looking forward to season three of The Walking Dead, but I'm pretty much tired of most of everything else. I'm fairly certain Rhiannon Frater's Siege was the straw that broke the camel's back for me, but part of it certainly is that very few are bringing anything new to the walking dead sub-genre. It's all so...stale. Thus, when the offer for a review copy Scott M. Baker's Rotter World came through in my email, I damn near offered it up to one of the other reviewers who aren't so tired of the same old story. Fortunately for me I read the synopsis before passing it along and decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did.
The premise of Rotter World is like all the other zombie stories you are familiar with. Mankind has been nearly decimated by the undead and a ragtag band of survivors are holed up in a fort, making runs for food and supplies, trying to live another day. But what separates this novel from the thousands of others like it is vampires are thrown in the mix. Yep, our human survivors have teamed up with a small clan of vampires not in friendship, but in necessity. They need each other to survive. Seems like zombies can make the undead...deader and since the bloodsuckers kick mad ass when throwing down, it's better to have them with you than against you.
Baker also does something else not often seen in the world of zombie entertainment: he provides an interesting premise on why the dead rose: the Revenant Virus. And it's not too farfetched, either. Plus, it's not just a pretty good explanation, but the R Virus is key to the plot in both the characters' motivations and plays a pivotal role in the vampires' involvement.
The book opens strong, with a team of vampires and humans on a mission to rescue a group that is trapped in a warehouse. Nobody doing the saving thinks it's a good idea to be there, but orders are orders, so there can be no argument. The battle is bloody and lives are lost, but inevitably the mission is a success. Turns out, one of the people rescued in this almost suicide mission is none other than Dr. Compton, the creator of the Revenant Virus. And by saving him there is now hope for a cure, but the vaccine is located in a locked down base in Gettysburg, hours from where our protagonists are currently living. Normally, of course, this would be no big deal. But when you throw thousands of flesh eaters between where you are and where you need to be, things get a little dicey. Plus the vampires' role in the release of the R Virus is going to ruffle a few feathers too, once Compton opens his big mouth. If nothing else, Rotter World is packed with conflict.
Rotter World is also packed with action. From the opening pages of the attack on the warehouse, something is always happening. It could be rumbles with the undead, man versus vampire, man versus man, or just some arguing, tempers are high in this book. While the characters themselves are rather stereotypical to the point that they all kind of blend together, it's more than made up with the fights and brawls found throughout. As I was reading it, I couldn't help but think that it would be a pretty good popcorn film. There's not character in the book strong enough to really care about, but that doesn't matter much because you still have a good time reading it.
Rotter World isn't going to win any awards for making a statement on society. Its characters are vanilla, the word "rotter" is used entirely too much in the book to the point of near annoyance and you really don't give a damn about who lives or dies. Regardless, it's still a brisk, fun read and it manages to breathe a little life into the jaw of an otherwise stale genre. That latter part is enough to make it an easy recommendation.