Review: Dead Moon

Posted: March 12, 2019 by in Books that are Mediocre (3/5 single_star) Meta: Peter Clines, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction

So, despite what Goodreads might seem to imply, this isn’t the third book in any kind of connected series. It’s a single novel that may or may not be the first in a series, and that might be in the same loosely bound universe as other books that the author has written. But that’s about it. I spent the entirety of my time listening to this one believing that this was the third book in a series and wondering what story might have been told in the first two books. It’s not written like the follow-on to any kind of other story.

Now I guess I know better than to blithely accept the information I’m given on Goodreads.

This is also another one of those books that doesn’t look like it’s going to get a dead-tree release any time soon, if at all. <<sideways glance>> I just don’t get that. Part of the book market, I guess, that doesn’t include me. Still, I was more than happy to give the thing a listen, as I had a hole in my audiobook schedule.

DEAD MOON (Amazon) is a new science fiction — eh, more science fantasy — story from author Peter Clines. I’d come across Peter’s Ex- novels before but had never read any of them. Always fun to try out new authors that are touted as “number one” in any category though.

Cali Washington is a young woman that has given up on her dream to become a dancer, and after the fallout has decided to temporarily become a “Caretaker” on the Earth’s moon. Set several hundred years in the future, the Earth has run out of space to bury people, and someone decided that it might be a good idea to start ferrying corpses up to the moon and burying them there. “Caretakers” are those that live on the moon and take said corpses, which are essentially corpsesicles by the time they reach their destination, and bury them beneath the lunar dust, forever to remain inert and preserved.

It doesn’t take much critical thought to see where a speculative author might take such an obvious setup. Sixteen million relatively preserved corpses sitting under a few feet of dry soil? Hmm. Yup, you got it! Zombie novel! Courtesy of your not-so-friendly cosmic alien monster-intelligence.

In some respects, a zombie novel is exactly what this story is. In others, Clines twists some of the typical zombie tropes and makes you rethink things a couple times, so it’s also a little bit more. Because this isn’t just a straight-shot zombie story. It’s actually a story that happens to have a lot of things that look and kind of act like zombies, and then it let’s the reader’s mind take that information and start making assumptions. This is one of the best aspects of the novel, and the author handles it pretty well. The other strengths of the story were its fast pace, and, of course, the fact that Ray Porter was the narrator for the thing. If you’re unfamiliar with Ray Porter, he’s the guy that read for the audiobook versions of Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series (EBR Archive), which are amazingtastic.

DEAD MOON is a character-light zombie novel set on the surface of the moon that's a relatively decent read for a popcorn-filled afternoon.

The weakest aspect of the story is the characters. Although the story starts out pretty strong, detailing the character of Cali Washington (she of the double state name), it quickly drops all pretenses and becomes a play-it-fast, kill-some-people, and show-some-monsters popcorn novel. Most of the POV time is split between Cali and a long-time Caretaker, Jake, who has some military background and is a practical joker. That is literally about all of the characterization that we get from him, and as half the novel is told from his perspective, that’a little eye-glazingly unfortunate. Although, Cali falls into the same category after a few chapters. So, I don’t know that it really makes that much of a difference. In some respects, this is also written like it’s supposed to be a horror novel, but it ends up not hitting any of those notes in the slightest because of those missing aspects of the novel.

The lack of any real characterization kept this one from getting anything better than a Like rating from me, and the relatively blah ending and a plot that didn’t really raise the stakes much along the way, kept this from being anything else but Mediocre. Albeit, perhaps on the upper end of said scale. Still, if you’re in for a quick read that you don’t have to think very hard about (seriously, don’t think very hard about it), you could probably enjoy this novel enough to make it worth your while.

Ultimately, whether you like this one or not will depend on what you demand from your stories. What you demand from your heroes.

Here at EBR it just so happens that we demand a little more.

  • Recommended Age: 18+ for violence and profanity
  • Language: Strong and regular
  • Violence: High amount of violence and gore
  • Sex: Risque humor and talk of open relationships

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