Review: Isolation by David Moody
They say that all good things must come to an end, and this eBook only release of Isolation brings David Moody’s zombie writing to an end, collecting his remaining fiction together and drawing a line underneath his undead work. Never say never, of course, because horror has a way of coming back from, ahem, the dead, but for now those of us who have been on Moody’s journey through the zombie apocalypse can step into his cadaver filled world one final time.
There are five stories in this collection, the main one being the titular Isolation, a novella based on a screenplay that Moody had been working on developing into a movie with Colchester based director Will Wright but which had, as these projects often do unfortunately, stalled. Telling the tale of Keith, a socially awkward young man who initially finds himself alone among the suddenly deceased rest of the world, Isolation is a taut piece of character driven writing.
Once he encounters the teenage Anna, who may not be quite who she appears to be, the reader is drawn into the development of his Keith’s character as he finds his inner strength and confidence, but rather than turning into the by numbers hero of the hour, Moody deftly wrong foots us in a way that once we see where he’s going, is perhaps more realistic than the emergence of yet another wasteland warrior.
To say more would be to spoil the Isolation experience, but it is worth noting that while all of the tales in this collection are set in familiar Moody territory, none of them are in the Autumn universe and do benefit from this, as he is able to play around with the rules he has previously created, breaking them in a myriad of interesting ways.
Case in point is Who We Used To Be, which turns the usual zombie narrative on its head by exploring the apocalypse from the other side, quite literally. Written at the same time as the short story Priorities, which was the basis for Moody’s previous release The Cost Of Living and was included as a bonus with that tale (see my review here), he deliberately uses the same family unit but looks at their situation through a very dark mirror.
The third story, Tightropes, is a hugely enjoyable romp that wouldn’t have been out of place being filmed as a Tales from The Crypt episode and offers another alternative perspective on the zombie apocalypse, while Muriel is an unashamedly light and, if not fluffy, then certainly whimsical piece that originally appeared in a zombie special published by SFX magazine. The final story, Wish I Was Here, was written specifically to close this collection and Moody’s current zombie canon, and serves as a very short, but very poignant coda.
While I’m a little sad to reach the end of Moody’s undead odyssey, I also have to concede that due to the sheer volume and quality of the Autumn experience and the associated side quests I do think that, for the time being anyway, he’s probably said everything he needs to say and is wisely quitting that world while he’s ahead. The upside of this is that we have two upcoming novels to look forward to – Strangers and 17 Days – and a four book horror/science fiction series called The Spaces Between. Having been enthralled with his recent reworkings of early novels Straight To You and Trust, I’m most definitely looking forward to exploring these new, zombie free (maybe!) worlds that Moody is bringing our way in the near future.
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