Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review Autumn: Aftermath (Autumn # 5) by David Moody

Aftermath is the last installment of the Autumn series.  Once again, we travel back in time to see how many of survivors coped through yet another life threatening rough patch. This time, some of the survivors are in a castle, because it provides good protection from the dead because of the steep approach.  I have to pause to say that the incline being a problem for the dead makes absolutely no sense as in other books, the dead were capable of climbing stares. If they can make it up several flights of stairs, it makes no sense that an incline would be a problem for them. As to be expected, the close quarters quickly begin to fray on people's nerves and with everything that they have already lost and been through already, the castle may not be the sanctuary that it originally seemed.

The dead are once again changing and the degree of rot that they are producing is disgusting but at the same time, it provides hope.  Eventually, the elements will ensure that the dead will disappear and the survivors can begin to focus on life after the plague.  Not everyone is ready for that conversation though, as most are still suffering with PTSD. The male survivors have taken over and many of the women find themselves reduced to cooking and cleaning.  Gender roles are strictly enforced and it's strongly implied that at least some of the male survivors, want to save the women for breeding purposes. With the constant conflict and the struggle for supplies -- it is quickly becoming questionable -- whether the humans can stick together long enough for the zombies to rot away.

Autumn began as a very compelling series.  Moody's writing is stark, yet manages to convey the absolute desperation of the survivors. One of the things Moody attempts to do is humanize the dead in Aftermath.  The survivors express pity for the dead, though they have threatened their lives for months because they now understand that as time has passed, the dead have far more awareness of what has happened to them than they previously had.  Instead of destroying the dead out of fear, or a push for survival, the dead are now put out of their misery and this is seen by at least some of the survivors as a mercy killing.  As a horror concept, this did not work for me at all. Sympathetic zombies?  Yeah, that is not the stuff of horror.

One of the ongoing problems with this series is that it stopped being original very early on. Instead of a steady progress on how the characters we have been introduced to make their way through this new dystopian world, Moody plays with the timeline continually.  In the end, it feels like each book,  is repeating the same story.  Aftermath was particularly bad in that Michael was put into peril when he went to save the survivors at the castle.  Anyone who had read Autumn:Disintegration, could not have possibly taken this seriously, as we were told at the end of the novel that Michael was back on the island safely and that his child had been born alive.  It's one thing to have someone spoil the ending of a book, but another when the author does so from the very onset. Normally, when a series ends, I feel a sense of loss, but the Autumn series could have at the very least ended with Autumn:Disintegration, if not earlier. It's as though all of the imagination Moody possessed was lost to the concept and that he didn't know what to do with the series after that.

In the end Aftermath is predictable, if you are even remotely familiar with the series and that is it's downfall.  It is nothing more than the death rattle of an idea which clearly outlived it's inspiration. After reading the Autumn series, I cannot say that I am inspired to read more of Moody's work, despite the fact that Moody's writing style is beautiful.  At some point, you have to advance a story to keep readers interested and after five books of repetition, it feels like Moody is either incapable of this or uninterested in it.  If anything, the best I can suggest is to read this book as a stand alone and then move on, because there's really no reason to read the entire series.