Book Review – The Last Outpost by Rich Hawkins

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My first foray into the mind of Rich Hawkins was the genius The Last Plague, in which a group of friends battle the (not exactly) zombie apocalypse. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The vivid descriptions of the beasts, the killings, and the tension between the characters was all top drawer. So I was excited to finally get along to reading the second book in this trilogy.

I have to say, this book didn’t quite live up to the excitement and awesomeness of the previous one, which would have been difficult to say the least. The story starts during the aftermath of the ‘invasion’ where the protagonist, Royce, is wandering across the barren countryside, trying to evade death and mourning not just the death of his wife and child, but the death of humanity.

He hides from the monsters, he battles them, he watches others ripped apart and consumed by them. He meets a couple of other survivors and they try to make it to somewhere they think may be a safe haven, though it probably isn’t.

The writing is solid and the descriptions of the terrible actions of the zombie-type mutant bastard monsters are as guts-churning as in the first book. Whereas in The Last Plague the characters became aware of their plight as the story unfolded, here Royce already knows of everything that has happened and the world he now exists in is desperate and chilling. Hawkins beautifully describes the aftermath of the carnage and ingrains it into your mind so well you have to check around while reading just to make sure your reality is as it should be.

Royce’s struggle for food, the aching in his body as he walks for miles to find any signs of civilisation, the desperation of his situation is all brought to life wonderfully. It is grim, much like I’d suppose an apocalypse to be.

The only moan I had with the book was the plot. There were no real twists going on, in fact you could have taken a scene from the beginning of the book, planted it into the final third, and not really noticed any continuity errors.

Now I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. The fact that it was monster after monster with gore dripping from their bodies and disfigured limbs and faces that were eventually killed in all manner of ways, could make it a bit of ‘more of the same’, but this never came across. The action was great, my toes were curling and my mouth sneering as I read on. But there didn’t really seem any point to any of it. If you’re after a story with a beginning, middle, and end then this may not be for you. If you crave an experience, albeit a desolate and depressing one, then look no further!

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