Twenty years after the zombie apocalypse, there are outposts where the living barely hang on amid the untold numbers of the risen dead. One of these in the mountains of Colorado is called The Settlement, the brainchild of a group of church-going Folks who anticipated and prepared for the catastrophe.
In addition to the Folks, though, there are five boys just into their teens at the outpost, with Bobby being the oldest. These five were mysteriously brought into The Settlement as infants by the camp’s two founders after a foraging run, and years later many of the residents distrust and fear them as outsiders.
Turns out there just may be a reason for the Folks to feel that way. No spoilers, but this is a bare-bones overview of The Creepers by Norman Dixon Jr. (@normandixonjr), an original and highly enjoyable action/horror story filled with interesting and well-drawn characters. I was engrossed in the story from page 1, and read most of the second half in several long sessions because I wanted, needed, to know what happened next.
I must admit I hesitated a bit before choosing The Creepers for my next read; just a week after watching the season 3 finale of The Walking Dead television show, was I ready for more zombies? As a matter of fact, I was — because Mr. Dixon’s take on the genre is both fresh and engaging, and frighteningly realistic. The initial, mind-blowing panic of the dead rising and feasting on the living is long gone — although, of course, not forgotten. Death by Creeper bite still happens, but life for the living has settled into a rhythm, of sorts.
But what would the world be like two decades after the dead take over most of the planet? What would it take to not only survive, but thrive in such a deadly environment? Because the risen dead — which are everywhere and turn up in the oddest places, like flesh-eating booby-traps — are not the only threats. There is also nature, in terms of both weather and wild animals, and other humans no longer fettered by the mores of civilization. Bobby and his brothers are fortunate in that the Folks at The Settlement made education a priority; what of the kids born after the collapse whose only lessons are life-and-death survival?
Something I found very interesting was that religion is addressed as a part of this story. Considering The Walking Dead TV show (I have not read the graphic novels) is set in the American Deep South — which has a strong tradition of religion as I personally witnessed while living there during Navy assignments — there have been surprisingly few references to religion.
Of course, in the context of a zombie apocalypse, beliefs will be tested and it wouldn’t be surprising for the genuinely faithful to lose sight of what they’d learned. Others on the lesser or greater extremes of religiousness will also be affected, either sinking deeper or abandoning entirely their beliefs. Make no mistake, this isn’t a story of the “left behind” ilk, but I found it refreshing and realistic that religion was touched upon.
In addition to exciting action scenes and more than a few frights, there are some memorable characters in The Creepers and along the way I developed some strong emotions about a few of them. Mr. Dixon has tweeted he is working on the next book in the series and I am looking forward to spending more time with these people as they fight for survival, and perhaps something more than just that.
I highly recommend The Creepers to anyone looking for a well-written and exciting action/adventure story that also happens to be a fresh take on the zombie genre. For more information on Mr. Dixon and his writing, visit his blog: The Settlement: News From The End of The World.