Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: Animal Kingdom by Iain Rob Wright, Grand Mal Press, 2011, Kindle Edition.

Along with the named title piece, this volume offers a variety of bonus short stories: ‘Clocking Off’, ‘Howard’s Wood’, ‘The Hunt’, ‘Home’, ‘Behold, The Beasts of War’ and ‘Sanctuary’. Curiously though, the book closes with Eric S. Brown’s ‘Night of the Squirrels’.

Here we are, once again, face to face with the apocalypse. But this time, the world in peril is a little closer to our own. The ‘supernatural’ here is quite literal as the food chain flips and the wild become wilder and the domesticated trade in their kibble for human flesh.

The novel ‘Animal Kingdom’ opens with a father taking his son to the zoo, and on cue, all “you know what” breaks loose. For an overall light and easy read, it is fast paced and full of action, but it is just too reminiscent of the television show: When Animals Attack. The novel, like the TV show, lacks literary punch. And a punch-less novel is one light in the character development department.

Without that essential character development, there is no one here for the reader to bond with, no one to feel for and live through. Although the initial survivors are a disparate bunch, their variety of interests and circumstances seem so contrived that they quickly become stereotypical of every other writer’s post-apocalyptic group.

Overall the novel is well-written, the concept an interesting little twist, but it is just not a great story. It is, however, certainly better than a dump truck load of other pages filling the genre.

The short stories are a mixture of fantastic to pedestrian.

Eric S. Brown’s ‘Night of the Squirrels’ is what this novel attempts to be. It is fast and full of action. It is way over the top, and it knows it. Once Bigfoot steps out, you are in on the joke and the joke is ridden into the sunset. This story is a great read.

Of Mr. Wright’s shorter tales, ‘Home’ hits the mark in all categories; writing, concept and character. The action is restrained but always front and center. And by handling the action in that manner against a marvelous character portrayal makes this story flat out superb.

‘Sanctuary’ comes in a close second, but falls a little short as against ‘Home’. This story is still superior to the other non-mentions.

These three short stories are worthy of your attention and your coin.

You can purchase this volume for your Kindle at quite a reasonable price so you’ll have enough left over to buy your pet a really nice toy. Buy this book, and be sure to buy your pet a really, really nice toy. A really, really nice toy and maybe some treats; and perhaps a fluffy new bed.

Hey, you never know.

Buy it here.

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