Waiting to Die is a self-published effort on part of the author, but don’t mistake this for the many other self-published zombie ‘books’ out there, ones that were rejected 20 times before resigning themselves to doing it themselves. Waiting to Die is a very well made book, and I applaud Mr. Cochran because the book’s design is of better quality than some publishers. The cover art is superb and different, and the book is very well edited–unlike many other zombie crappers out there–I couldn’t find very many typos or grammatical errors in the book.
Now let’s get to the story itself.
Plot: As much as I loved the book’s design, I wasn’t very pleased with the ending. The ending, to me, seemed a little forced and there were a few things that I felt could have been tweaked.
The rest of the plot is good. It’s not necessarily the most ground-breaking zombie plot in the world, but I don’t think it was intended to be. I think the author just wanted to write a usual zombie book but with his own voice and vision. This story is a little darker than most zombie books out there, leaving the reader completely clueless about who will actually survive when the last few pages are flipped. The first ¼ of the book is a perfect vision of chaos. One of my favourite scenes of the book is the hospital scene near the beginning. There is so much destruction, horror and enough zombie action to fill any Undead gullet. What I really like about the plot, however, is that it’s always human vs zombie. We don’t have any groups of bandits on a raping spree, or Stalin-esque figures marching across the land with their mission to rid the living in the name of God. What do we have? Zombies! Cochran gives zombie fans what they want, truckloads of zombie gore and terror. This is hard to pull off, but Cochran avoids the cliché of bandits and delivers some good zombie fun.
Characters: The characters are regular everyday people taken from their normal lives and thrown into the fray. Cochran gives the reader some likeable characters and he lets the reader interpret the characters as they wish, instead of telling us who to cheer for like you see in other zombie books. The best aspect of the characters is their psychology, and how terror and the human condition often cross paths in this novel. We see true anguish, pain and fear. The realistic elements of this story are full-throttle, making it a pretty eerie read because it’s easy to picture yourself in their shoes.
Writing: I saved this part for last because it’s the best part of the book. Richard Cochran has a beautiful control of the English language. His prose is melodic and crisply detailed without being overindulgent. His zombie descriptions are some of the best I’ve read, and I can be hard to impress when it comes to that. It’s hard not to admire his writing technique and the flow of the words.
Overall: This is a very good read. This is old school zombie terror at its best, with no unnecessary human conflicts, just good ol zombie fun with real characters, feeling real fear. The only thing separating this from being a perfect zombie book is if the plot was a little stronger. If you reminisce about classic Romero zombie chaos, then I would highly recommend you give this book some consideration.
*SPOILERS* It was evident the author wanted Johnny and Scarlett to bite the dust, but the execution could have been better. Johnny and Scarlett hold a door closed in order to hold back the Undead from flooding the room and making hamburger of our heroes. Emma and Billy escape through a roof access hatch and get to the roof. They close the hatch and then, Ron, comes back and rescues them. Johnny and Scarlett realize they can jar the door closed by wedging a chair against the handle. After that, they try to escape through the same hatch that the kids went through, but suddenly, it’s stuck and won’t open. I felt that this was a little odd considering that the hatch was perfectly fine a few moments ago, but now it’s stuck and can’t open? Leaving Johnny and Scarlett stuck in the room, and the door finally bursts open.
I really felt that this could have been ended differently.
Available on Amazon.