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Literature / Monster Island

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A zombie trilogy by David Wellington, originally available as online serials and now in print. Can still be read for free here.

Once upon a time, there was a United Nations weapons inspector named Dekalb who one day found himself imprisoned, along with his young daughter, Sarah, by a Somali warlord. In exchange for his daughter's safety, he agrees to go on a mission to New York City to retrieve AIDS medication for the ailing warlord, along with her soldiers... who also happen to be teenage girls. Oh, and the entire world has also been engulfed by a zombie plague of unknown origins, so there's that. Along the way, they meet Gary Fleck, (not quite) MD, a man who found a way to retain intelligence as a zombie, who tags along for... a while. Now it's simply a matter of getting to the UN building and not getting eaten.

Hordes of flesh eating monsters, an ineffectual government worker, a small army of child soldiers, and a zombie doctor: naturally, everything will work out just fine.

Consists of:

This series provides examples of:

  • After the End: Takes place six months after the zombie apocalypse decimates much of the world. Only a few countries with tons of weapons such as Somalia remain safe.
  • Alternate History: Reading in between the lines puts the outbreak beginning in March 2005 while the story itself takes place in September 2005.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Dekalb seeks refuge in Somalia with his daughter Sarah in exchange for getting AIDS medication all the way from New York.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The AK-47s the Somali girls use is impractical in the U.S. setting since ammunition for it would be scarce. Delkalb even suggests Ayaan switch her AK for an M4 Carbine but Ayaan declines politely.
    • The group finds a functioning Stryker APC in the streets of New York and are tempted to commandeer it as it would provide protection, but later leave it behind knowing the streets of NYC were clogged with roadblocks and abandoned vehicles, the fact that it would require refueling, and the noise would attract every undead in the area.
  • Big Apple Sauce: Takes place in an overrun New York City. The author writes with great imagery about NYC.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The DHS agent arrives in time in a CH-47 Chinook with a school bus attached to save the human survivors from Gary's undead hordes.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Make sure to have your Somali <-> English dictionary handy, because there might be some important things revealed...
  • Boring, but Practical: The DHS's agents M4 Carbine would have been practical since 5.56x45 mm ammunition is plentiful in the U.S.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Jack is a U.S. Army Ranger.
  • Elite Zombie: The liches and their myriad of special abilities: telepathy, mind control, possession, mass fungal growth...
  • Emergency Transformation: Dekalb, having been mortally wounded by a zombie, chooses to hook himself up to life support and become a lich rather than be given a mercy killing, so he can ensure that Gary doesn't try to take over the world again.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Ayaan points her AK-47 at an infected Dekalb, shouting at him to give her the order but Dekalb had better plans to keep Gary from attempting World Domination again.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: The DHS agent stationed in Governor's Island immediately assumes the Somali girls are terrorists due to the fact they were armed with AK-47s while he is armed with an M4.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mael the Bogman and his mummies switch sides to the humans after Gary betrays him. They later hold the line to protect the humans from the zombies just as the helicopter arrives.
  • I Am What I Am: Initially, Gary tries to act like a normal human. However, his instincts eventually win over and after supposedly being killed by his human party, he begins to identify with the undead.
  • Implacable Man: What becomes of Gary. As a "lich", he unexplainably survives a shot to the head from an AK-47 and ends up gaining supernatural powers to lead an army of undead against the human survivors. In the climax, a bitten Dekalb burns Gary's body and decapitates him but the head remains alive. By the end of the story, Dekalb has Gary's still-living head kept at the United Nations Headquarters so that he won't take over the word but Gary in return uses his supernatural powers to make Dekalb guilty.
  • Life Energy: What the zombies are really after.
  • More Dakka: In the museum battle, the Somali girls use full auto AK-47s and an M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun against Gary's horde of zombies.
  • Nausea Fuel: The East River full of dumped dead bodies is downright about making a person lose his lunch.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: "Normal" zombies compared to liches, especially when said lich can summon an entire army of zombies (even at a distance) to force them to do their bidding, including using them as portable communication devices.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • Port Authority Bus Terminal. Once the heroes enter it, they find the remains of countless hastily-packed luggages left behind by New Yorkers trying to evacuate the doomed city.
    • Seeing Times Square empty and dark is outright disturbing, the author himself describes it in a right way.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different
  • Our Zombies Are Different: In addition to the standard mindless zombies, we also get liches— people who maintained supply of oxygen to their brains during their transformation, and also develop a grab bag of supernatural powers for some reason. Then there are the mummies, and the ghost zombies...
    • It is implied that the outbreak is caused by a supernatural force that associated in the form of zombie virus.
  • Raising the Steaks: We get to see undead pidgeons attack the main characters in Grand Central Terminal.
  • Stages of Monster Grief: Probably safe to assume that Dekalb went through this.
  • Turn of the Millennium: In-between the lines, it takes place around September 2005.
  • The Undead: A truckload of them from zombies, liches, ghosts, and mummies.
  • Walking the Earth: The characters travel from Somalia to New York City on board a tugboat.
  • Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere: Gary's stint as the team medic was... short lived.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: "I have a right to exist!"
  • Zombie Apocalypse: No, for real.
  • Zombie Infectee: Dekalb after being bitten by a reanimated Jack.
  • The Necrocracy: The Tsarevich's cult. Not too malevolent, either, specially considering the Gray and Gray/Black and Gray nature of the setting.