Sunday, April 29, 2012

Asylum by Mark Allan Gunnells

Overview;  Curtis has allowed Jimmy his college friend to take him to his first gay club.  Jimmy promised Curtis a memorable night of drinking dancing and sex.  The night becomes more memorable than either could have imagined.

“I’m going to call 911 again,” Toby said, pulling his phone back out. Gil smirked.  “You do that.  Now does anyone want to help me do something useful?”

“When the dead arose, Jimmy was going down on the balding accountant.”  The first sentence is one of the best grabbers I have seen in awhile. Mark Allan Gunnells’ novella Asylum is a briskly paced people trapped by zombie tale, that stands out first and foremost for Gunnells’ ability to create a diverse cast of characters the reader can identify with.  Curtis, Jimmy and the rest of the cast are diverse sympathetic and most importantly not idiots wandering into the dark alone to investigate. 
The intelligence of the characters add to the horror of the situation, because even the best choices in a bad situation can get you eaten.  Gunnells’ fleshes out his characters with deft pacing allowing for the a sense of nearly nonstop fear.  The only exception is a section where characters are pontificating about the horrible treatment of gays by popular media.  While I was in total agreement with the points made, it was preaching to the choir.  The people who need to be told this would not make it that far into a story with an almost entirely gay cast.  Gunnells creates a tense sense of impending dread, we know something worse is just around the corner.  But of what is the question that will keep you reading.
Gunnell’s descriptions of the zombies are short and sweet, and his eye for realistic action is well realized.  The tone is tense and the reader believes any character could die at any point.  Despite the classic set-up Gunnells’ Asylum feels fresh. 

In the End;  Mark Allan Gunnells has written a classic zombie set up and found in depth with his terrifically realized characters.  Long time genre fans will find much to enjoy here.     

 Click for my interview with Mark Allan Gunnells

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