One of my favorite writers was Michael Crichton. I devoured his books. Loved how they comprised of a gathered team sent to investigate some oddity. It happened in Sphere, and Jurassic Park, in Congo and Timeline. Russ Watts’ The Grave reminded me of a well-crafted Crichton novel.
The Grave is set nearly 200 years in the future. The earth has been punished. Much of the land is dead. Nothing grows on it. There is limited water . Droughts are like a plague. In a knee jerk reaction to reverse the global decay an artifical water known as “Aqua-Gene 119” is introduced. While it is 99% like real water, the 1% chemical produced undesired side effects; long term use and consumption killed people. They didn’t stay dead. They returned from the dead and were then known as the “Deathless.”
A team of scientists and journalists are assembled by the American Museum of Natural History to look for a Deathless cure in the Antarctic. Their plane goes down on an island by New Zealand known as The Grave. This ocean-surrounded plot of land has been used to stash the Deathless. With a perimeter heavily protected by the military and UN ships, nothing –not even birds– leave the island. Regardless, the survivors of the crash hold onto hope that a rescue to extract them from the dangers that surround them.
In need of food, drinkable water and shelter, the band of survivors realize they are unable to stay by the remains of the wreckage. They are forced to maneuver the island in search of a way to safety. They soon learn that political plots and governmental secrets may prove twice as dangerous as the hordes of flesh eating Deathless that outnumber them thousands to one.
Russ Watts impressed me. I am not sure what else to say. It is not that I did not expect an entertaining novel. It is that I rarely expect one as smooth, intense, and compelling as this. With well-defined characters, and believable plot, crisp dialogue and a barrage of action . . . I started the book and finished it in just a few sittings. Other things that needed to get done around the house were neglected. I am anxious to read Watts’ other zombie novels. The Grave is right up on top as one of my favorite zombie novels.