enhanced] DD-B

Book Note: Bill Swears, Zook Country

I read this book about 7-Mar-2012. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2012. This note was last modified Sunday, 01-Apr-2012 15:40:54 PDT.

This note contains spoilers for the book.


The author offered a promotional ebook copy, and it sounded interesting enough to take a look at, so here we are. We've bumped into each other online here and there.

This seems to be a "fast zombie" story. "Zooks" are people infected with the "metamorphic plague". I haven't seen them interested in eating brains yet, but they move super-fast, and they try to infect you. Luckily they lose their intelligence, and don't live too long. Our protagonists appear to be partnered as a zook hunting team (one of them just got out of prison for killing a bunch of zooks, the platoon he commanded, early on before it was legal).

There are some treatments that may prevent the disease from taking hold, but they have to be done immediately, may not always work, and much of the time people don't even bother to try, it sounds like.

The country has lost 30% of its population. Everything I've seen so far is small-scale enough that I can't tell what the overall effects are, but presumably thoroughly disastrous. I'd expect that by now deaths through starvation would exceed deaths from zooks, and that doesn't seem to be happening, though, so I'm a little doubtful if the worldbuilding has been thought through.

The story arc is pretty good. Each chapter has a flashback to the protagonist's start in zook hunting (when released from prison), and some current action. The current action is reasonably complicated, the antagonists are believable and not overly powerful, the character do develop.

I'm not sure I believe the given range for flechette's out of a man-portable rail-big (ballistic coefficient is bad, surely, so they would lose speed very fast?). But that's not something I'm an expert in. I am sure that C4 doesn't "cook off"; but that's apparently going to be fixed.

Zooks move too fast for most humans to see, so zook hunters have to have unusual perception and reflexes. Human variation being what it is, I'm willing to believe in this (at least grant it for the purposes of the story).

I do find myself questioning some of the weapons choices. Not so much the partner using something not lethal to zooks (he has a hangup on that, which by the end he's going to deal with); what he uses does put them down for long enough to let other hunters put a lethal round into them, and has a very high rate of fire so he can get them in fire-hose situations, which is useful. But the basic way to dispose of them is silver bullets (well, silver-jacketed). They burn when catalyzed by silver. But, why aren't at least some of the zook hunters using something like a full-auto .22 (with silver-plated ammo)? Cheap ammo, high rate of fire (and zooks move right out at the limits of hunter reflexes), easy to saturate an area. Maybe there just aren't enough of them around, maybe reliability or something? So, I guess that means the author got me engaged enough to think seriously about the world!

For a post-apocalyptic combat-oriented story, I think he has a lot of women with power and status, which is nice to see. People are finding the spots they can fit in, and doing what they can to keep things together, from running bars (and being the expert on what hunters are available and what they're good at) to directing studies at the Institute (and working with hunters to get the information you need).

I do, having reached the end, feel that the degree of order and the amount of ongoing commerce is not compatible with the claimed losses.

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David Dyer-Bennet