03 November 2010


by Michael Thomas Ford

Random House Australia. Young Adult fiction, Science Fiction. Paperback rrp $19.95

Reviewed by Sandy Fussell

This is not an easy book to review and it’s not a book that will suit every reader. It’s gory and violent - complete with zombies, flame throwers and charred flesh

But… I thought it was excellent. In the right hands this is just the sort of book that will unglue teenage boys from their video screens and encourage them to read. And while some adults might cringe at the blood and guts, this is no different to the games and movies these readers (and potential readers) are already immersed in.

The first rule of torching: cleanse with fire.

This is an action packed story set in a time after the Zombie Wars – when humanity was forced to obliterate its own kind – even friends and family – who had been affected by the zombie flu virus. Josh spends every moment he can playing a virtual reality zombie hunting game.

He’s very good at what he does (torching) and is invited to join a secret elite group who play in a specially constructed ‘park’ to entertain wealthy people who bet on the outcome. He gets paid to play.

The zombies are automatons. Or are they? When zombies bleed real blood, team members disappear and Josh takes a new drug Z, to experience the heightened sensory perception of a Zombie, he is no longer sure what to believe.

A valuable addition to a growing number of titles I class as ‘gamer fiction’, this dark and thrilling book is perfect for teens who would rather play on-line shoot-em ups and role playing games than pick up a book. However parents and librarians may need to make individual decisions about how they distribute it.

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