This is a really interesting book.
The zombie genre is challenging for writers. Stick to the same old zombie ‘rules’, and you run the risk of having a boring book with nothing new for readers to discover; stray too far from the canon literature and you lose the attention of folks who want an easily recognizable setting. Enter ‘The Romero Strain’ by TS Alan.
Alan understands the rules of a great zombie book: some kind of virus infects humanity, mass destruction follows. He also knows that a great zombie book uses the zombies as a setting, to add the drama upon which the human relationships are developed. It is the relationships that we enjoy when we read a book—the relationships that the characters build between themselves, and that we build with them.
In The Romero Strain, Alan first sets a familiar stage, and then changes things up enough to keep things fresh. The concepts of transmutes, half-mutes, and ‘regular’ zombies strikes a chord as a much more realistic idea than a single type of zombie horde, and the trials of the main characters as they exist in the world are build upon it.
A basis in reality is where this book really shines. As a zombie fanatic, I thought I was up to date on the latest zombie and survival gear, but Alan introduces dozens of concepts, weapons, and survival products into the story – all of them available in the real world (I had no idea that a NukAlert was a real device). Attention to detail was also present in the descriptions of New York City; the characters also reference modern day television shows, documentaries, and books – many of which I have also seen or read – and that further helps to build an affinity for them.
There are a few spots where the relationships between the characters were described in perhaps too much detail, but I did feel a connection to the main character, and found myself rooting for him as the story progressed. When the book ended, I wanted to follow the characters just a little bit longer – which is a good sign that Alan was successful in creating a believable world.