Just in time for Halloween, comes the second adventure of Ranger Martin, Zombie Hunter:
In a cold cemetery just outside American Fork, Utah, zombie slayer Ranger Martin sets his trap, four gas drums strung together and the barrel of his shotgun acting as the fuse. The undead crowd erupts in a blaze of body parts. If only all of Ranger’s enemies would die this way. What Ranger doesn’t know is his greatest foe may not be a hungry horde after all, but a vicious fiend bent on destroying the planet.
They came from the sky. No one knew what to call them. By that time, it was too late. The dreaded lights from their ships plunged the world into darkness and everyone from Oregon to Virginia had disappeared. Now, with the towns and cities empty, no one will be able to stop the invaders’ brutal assault on the survivors. That is, no one except for Ranger Martin and a group of young tagalongs eager to once again reclaim the globe as their home. Together, they fight the elements, kill alien and zombie alike, and liberate the weak from their military oppressors. But will Ranger have enough time to defeat another wave of silver ships screaming toward Earth before it delivers its fatal payload? Or will he succumb to the whims of a sadistic, power-hungry general obsessed with eliminating anyone threatening his plans?
Ranger Martin and the Alien Invasion is a fun, rollicking adventure, a pulp fiction medley of zombies, aliens, and action.
In the midst of gun battles, splattering zombie brains, and alien attacks is a story of the make-shift family Ranger Martin has gathered in the post-zombie world. Two teens – Matty and Randy – and a kid – Jon – join Ranger Martin in the adventure, and build the heart of the story. Matty is the most interesting of the three – a world-weary young woman, just as stubborn as Ranger Martin himself. It’s always great to see a strong female character mixing in with the boys. Ranger Martin himself is a tough-guy hero, a former everyman now seeking to rid the world of these blasted “maggot-brains”. Together, the kids and Ranger Martin form a team able to face impossible odds – the horrid combination of a zombie apocalypse, and a military now under the command of an alien invasion.
Any good adventure also needs a great central villain. While the zombie is a unified hoard of un-death, General Grayson is a twisted, cold psychopath in search of only his own survival in this invasion. His cruelty and intelligence combine to make him a formidable enemy, and one who pushes Ranger Martin to his limits.
I also loved the many ways the zombies were described – maggot brains, decaying flesh rippers, and so on. The author, Jack Flacco, seems to have had fun while writing the book, and that comes across in the descriptions of zombie battles and explosions.
The only issue I had in the book was the break in perspectives throughout. The narration changes perspective within a single scene – one paragraph will be from Martin’s perspective, and the next from Matty’s. As I got deeper into the book, I got into the rhythm and it was less disconcerting. However, it would be a stronger book if there were a clearer divide when the reader is moved between character perspectives.
On the other hand, I appreciated the novel staying at a PG-13 – or less – level of violence. It’s a zombie story, so there’s going to be plenty of splattering guts,and a few gross-out moments, but nothing crossed over into the repulsive. It’s a fine line of grotesque to walk, and Flacco was able to make it work with panache. Flacco clearly knows both the zombie and alien invasion genres, and cleverly mixes the tropes of both to blend together into a fun, fast-paced hybrid.
Overall, I give it four stars, docking one-star for the mixed character perspectives. If you love zombies, and are looking for a fun zombie story to read as you prepare for Halloween, this is one to pick up.
Side Note: I found it ironic the story was set in the Utah Valley area, which is where I am attending grad school. Now, I walk the halls of school and peak around the corner, looking out for a zombie attack.
Also, I fit previewing this this rollicking adventure of zombie guts and alien attacks in between my grad school work. Anything which takes time out of my grad school work has to be worthwhile.
Side Note 2: A good friend of mine introduced me to this song a couple years ago, and I think it’s appropriate to this book.