Monday, 27 July 2015

Under Ground by S L Grey



Post-apocalyptic fiction is all the rage these days, and while this resurgence is mostly powered by the putrid rotting flesh of hordes of undead – the zombie apocalypse being the most popular method amongst writers for killing off their fellow humankind – there is a smaller, but equally vibrant bunch of writers who point the finger at flu. And for good reason, Spanish Flu infected 500 million, wiping out between 50 to 100 million, and a plethora of scientists have warned in recent years that should there be another pandemic, flu virus would be the most likely culprit.

Most books dealing with this kind of subject – zombies or flu - look at the world after it’s gone to hell in a handcart. Or at the very least they show the pandemic start, spread, cross beyond the point of no return, societal collapse, and then the aftermath. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good post-apocalyptic novel or film, but what I think many writers miss is the rich seam of a society teetering on the edge, the psychology of people as their world balancess on the brink. And it is here that S.L. Grey place their story.

Basically, a bunch of rich people have bought into a bunker should the world go to poop. An outbreak of flu breaks out, thousands upon thousands are dying, these rich folk head for the hills. But upon entering their sanctuary things go wrong. First, it’s not quite as cosy and well constructed as it looked in the brochure. Second, the various families don’t know each other until they get there and then when they do, they don’t all get along. And third, people start dying. I won’t say anymore should I divulge spoilers, but needless to say things go downhill from here.

I liked this book, I liked it a lot. It’s kinda like reading an account of a very dodgy series of that programme Big Brother, one where none of the contestants are particularly nice, they might die in horrible ways at any moment, and you just can’t help but watch. Or like when you drive by an accident on the motorway, you know you shouldn’t look, but you just have to. I say that in a good way. I found it compelling. I didn’t really warm to any of the characters, but I think that was almost the point; you just wanted to know which one would be bumped off next.
       

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars

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