Monday, 27 June 2011

2012 A Conspiracy Tale - Bryan Collier

Are you a David Icke fan? Then you will probably love 2012 A Conspiracy Tale by Bryan Collier, as this book has all the elements of reptilian aliens, secret government agendas and treating the general population like cattle. It kicks off with Mitchell Webb, CEO of technology company IDSys, landing a huge government contract to produce Radio Frequency Identification Devices.

However, Mitchell doesn't realise what a Pandora's box he has opened by accepting the contract and soon comes to fear that the huge amount of money that the company will be making are not worth the loss of autonomy and government scrutiny he is now under.

Although influential doors are opened to him for the first time, he finds himself inhabiting a world of smoke and mirrors where nothing is what it seems. A huge terrorist attack on the Channel Tunnel enables the government to pass laws that demand that all UK citizens have to have one of the devices implanted under their skin in the interests of national security and ensure that citizens are able to be tracked at all times.

As the implant programme starts to unfold, Mitchell and his friends and colleagues at IDSys uneasy when people who refuse the implants have all their access to their bank accounts and social services removed, several people around them have nasty accidents and they get more information on secret, influential groups who seem to have even more power and influence than the government itself.

As they have to go on the run when suspicion falls on them, will Mitchell and his small band of followers be able to unravel the truth in time to avert a major catastrophe for the Earth and also manage to stay alive?

Mitchell struggles to believe the whole story when it is revealed, but have they been in time to change the course of events and save mankind?

An interesting story, very detailed, with lots of threads of popular conspiracy theories embedded in it.  However, overall it all felt a bit clinical and I found some of the characterisation fairly shallow, which sometimes made it difficult for me to care too much about what happened to them. However, if you like your fiction without too much emotion thrown in, you will enjoy this book.

If I said read this book while eating a Mars bar, it might give too much away, but you may as well wash all that chocolate down with some full fat coke!

Zombie Apocalypse - Stephen Jones

Vampires stand aside, as it seems to be the year of the Zombie both in literature and on the small screen.  After hiding behind my hands during much of 'The Walking Dead' (I don't do gore very well - that poor horse!), I was surprised at how many Zombie books now inhabited the horror shelves at the book shop. So I made my choice, paid my money and took home Zombie Apocalypse by Stephen Jones.

Well, actually it is not by Stephen Jones, but was written by a collaboration of different writers and in the unusual format of being a series of letters, emails, reports, memos and even tweets describing the unfolding horror show and tragedy.

Zombie Apocalypse is set ever so slightly in the future and kicks off in London, where the economy is even crumblier than it is now and personal freedoms have been curtailed to a great degree. To throw the citizenry some 'beer and circuses' and raise the mood of the nation, the governments decides to splurge a lot of money on a New Festival of Britain.

The idea of the Festival goes down like a lead balloon with most people, but the authorities plough on creating new venues and transport links.  For some reason, they decide to do some construction on the site of an old plague burial ground in South London, that has had a sinister reputation for centuries.

As the bodies of the plague victims start to be removed, corners are cut, regulations are not followed, and strange things start to happen. A scientist who was investigating the possible public health risks disappears, and strange figures start to be reported wandering around in the vicinity of the old church.

One dark night it all starts to go to hell in a handcart and several police officers are attacked by strange, shambling figures who seem to have a preternatural strength. Anyone who is bitten, chewed, or even scratched by one of these creatures rapidly shows massive signs of infection in the wounds, develops a high temperature, and eventually appears to die. Except......they don't!

They rise again as the living dead - zombies who have an insatiable hunger for human flesh.  The rapid collapse of society, the pitiful response of the government, and the blind panic and incomprehension of ordinary people are all played out via such mediums as a teenage girl's diary, desperate texts, police reports and blog posts (strangely there always seems to be mobile phone reception and access to the internet - usually the first things to go down in my experience - but hey they needed a book!)

As Britain fails when trying out a final solution to halt the Zombie plague in its tracks, the contagion inevitably finds its way over into the rest of the world, with the US, Mexico and Australia all being infected.

Enough gore to satisfy the horror fans and enough of a story for the rest of us, it makes an intriguing, if disturbing, read.  Is the state of our economy and sense of hopelessness that many people feel behind this explosion of zombie literature? Do people really feel that we are somehow in the 'end days'?

My only criticism of the book is in its ending, which I found a little absurd. Yes I know that on one level the whole idea of zombies is absurd, but I didn't like the ending which I don't want to give away.  Suffice to say that it brings a whole new meaning to 'you are what you eat'!

One to read trembling under the duvet with a double vodka and coke and an extra large bag of Maltesers!