Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Revolution Z: GB Banks & Blake Hislop

The Americans are engaged in war against Iraq and with Saddam threatening to invade Saudi Arabia, U.S. soldiers are dying hand over fist.  The military decides that in order to maintain an American presence in the Middle East, as well as maintain American global dominance, they must create the ultimate soldier.  To do this, they turn the soldiers who have died on the battle field into zombies.  A zombie military force also needs an ultimate general and so General Washington (yes, that Washington) and General Patton are brought back to life to lead the force.

Washington and Patton are men who in life not only lead but were independent thinkers.  It's not long before the two Georges decide that they are not being told the whole truth and begin to question if what they are engaged in is really for the benefit of the United States.  Though they try to keep their sentience from their creators, it's not long before the two Georges must decide whether to go along with the nefarious plot, or fight for the America they love.

There are so many problems with this book, I don't really know where to begin.  The premise is ridiculously patriotic and patently unsound.  Why in the world would a modern army think that they would need George Washington and Patton to act as generals?  Washington died in 1799 and that means that he would have no idea about modern warfare, let alone have any concept of how the modern world is run.  All of his tactics would be for a military that didn't even have a repeating rifle, let alone tanks, surface to air missals, radar, sonar etc,.  He wouldn't know what to do with any piece of technology if you placed it right in front of him. Patton, while not as an archaic a figure as Washington, died in 1945.  In the present world, the modern military is very much dependent upon modern technology, something Patton, akin to Washington, could not begin to fathom.  They might as well have resurrected William Wallace, Charlamegne, Hannibil Barca and Alexander the Great, for all the help Washington and Patton would have been able to offer a modern army.

We are never given a reason for why the two Georges are sentient above all other zombies.  We are only left with the understanding that because they were apparently so exceptional in their actual lives that somehow this translate to greater sentience in their undead lives. It's nonsense.

Washington decides to wage war on American soil; another revolution to free the people.  He leads his zombie soldiers to the Capitol.  The American people rise up against it's government and join Washington in his struggle.  We are given no reason why the people aren't running scared from the specter of a zombie military and instead choose to fight.  Beyond the experimentation of the military, there is no discussion about what life is like for the average American, or even how the supposed seeds of discontent were sown.  I have no problem with a people rising up to throw off an oppressive government, but the reader must be given a reason to believe why this is happening. It is further troubling that the conventional military would revolt to the point where the government suddenly lost the ability to launch an aerial assault on the zombie rebels.  Why are the soldiers suddenly discontent?  Oh I know, reasons. Again, no explanation was given.

When we are first introduced to Washington, he speaks like a man of his time.  On the advice of Patton, Washington works to change his speech pattern and starts saying things like,  "As God as my witness, we are crossing this fucking bridge! I have some killing to do and I'm hungry for blood." Are we  really supposed to believe that this is George Washington talking?

Then there is Washington's sudden understanding of modern times.  This is a man who claims to struggle to talk like someone living in current times, yet he is aware of how the government functions.
Washington is not equipped, in his great haste, to break down the firewalls and encryption guarding the most lurid secrets on Burns' personal computer.  But the memos in the desk -- those things told him plenty.  The memos and correspondence told of  nefarious plot by the US  government to enslave the American people. They told of rampant spying .  They told of a runaway NSA. they told of an IRS gone mad.  They detailed warrantless searches and paramilitary brutality.  It was all there and there was so much of it, and it was so awful,  that even an enterprising cynical whistle blower would not believe it. 
So this man who died 215 years ago is capable of breaking down firewalls and defeating government level encryption  but doesn't because he is pressed for time. Yes, this is a good time to roll your eyes. How does he know what the NSA is? The NSA was created by Truman in 1945 but somehow, Washington understands the function of this organization, when even some modern Americans, have no idea what function the NSA performs. Similarly, the IRS wasn't even created until 62 years after Washington's death.

For great swathes of this story, the POV kept changing.  It's almost as though Banks & Hislop couldn't decide who they wanted their protagonist to be.  It made the story awkward.  Further, there were just leaps of logic with no basis for understanding how a character arrived at a decision.  The transitions between POV and chapters was downright awkward.  Much of the story was either spent detailing battle, or in long drawn out conversations, which read like massive info dumps.  This coupled with the short staccato sentences, made Revolution Z, quite unenjoyable to read.

Obviously, Hislop and Banks have an interest in military and weapons and it over ran the story.  The average readers doesn't need to know about the various caliber of weapons and what they do.  The long march to Washington to over throw the government simply dragged on and on.  I simply began to skim at this point ,realizing that this trek added nothing to the story whatsoever.

This book was incredibly erased with the only people of colour being represented by the so-called terrorist and aggressive Iraqis ( just pretend you don't know how quick the Iraq war ended) and of course, Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.  Given the current state of U.S. foreign policy, I am not surprised that Iraqis and Muslims were chosen as the enemy but without the context of exactly how damaging U.S. foreign policy has been in the Middle East, they are simply evil for the sake of being evil.  I could have done without the propaganda.  There are no GLBT characters in this novel whatsoever and considering Revolution Z's treatment of race, it's a blessing.

To be perfectly honest, Revolution Z is cheap American propaganda  masquerading as zombie book. It makes no sense and is poorly written at that.  I will never get the hours back I lost reading this book and further, it feels as though my brain needs to be cleansed after its exposure to Revolution Z.  If there was a point beyond the idea of  how wonderful supposedly benign American exceptionalism is, it was certainly lost on me and I suspect it would be lost on anyone of intelligence,or with even a passing knowledge of history. All that I can say is that at least no trees died to produce this poorly written drivel. Revolution Z isn't even worth the dollar that it sells for on Amazon.

Editor's Note: A copy of this book was received from the author for review.