I grew up around boats and marinas. My father has always had an intense love, no…obsession, for boating. My dad doesn’t share my obsession for zombies but he does always joke the perfect way out of a zombie apocalypse would be on a boat on open water. That’s why when Colin M. Drysdale approached ZombieGift.com requesting a review of his zombie novel, For Those In Peril On The Sea, I was more than willing to oblige.
For Those In Peril On The Sea tells the story of a group of four characters hired to deliver a newly built catamaran sailboat. The task seems simple enough; just sail the newly built vessel across the Atlantic from South Africa to Miami. Mother nature has different plans and the boat gets pretty banged up and drenched in a viscous squall. The storm floods the boat nearly sinking it and soaks the electronics, cutting off all communication to the outside world. The crew decides to head to a lighthouse to use the radio there to notify the boat’s new owner of their location and the trouble they encountered. They soon discover worrying about the boat’s new owner being upset is the least of their concerns.
There is absolutely no lighthouse keeper in sight. There’s a vehicle with broken glass and a bloody mess, but no humans anywhere. There are barricaded doors and evidence of bloody struggles in the houses near the lighthouse but no sign of life anywhere. That is until the survivors on shore decide retreating back to their boat is a good idea. Just as they’re leaving they are pursued by a man with a machete. Is he friend or foe? They don’t stick around long enough to find out which is probably a good thing. As they’re fleeing to safety they witness the machete wielding man mauled by zombies.
The boat of survivors weighs their options and decides to head on to Florida to report what they’ve seen. After a six week journey at sea the crew is excited to finally reach Florida. When they return to civilization they realize something is terribly wrong. Miami appears to be in flames and the shore is crawling with more infected.
They make the decision to push father into port and head more inland. They’re greeted with a grim scene and the stark realization that the whatever this crisis or outbreak is, it envelops the world on a much grander scale than they originally imagined. They make the only logical decision and retreat back to the safety of the sea.
Eventually they discover they aren’t earth’s sole survivors and they meet up with another group of survivors that have formed a floating community of boats just off shore in the relative safety of a harbor. The remainder of the book tells the story of how this group survives and what eventually ends up tearing them apart and separating them.
What We Liked
Good Range of Characters:
There is a wide variety of personality types in this story. There are innocent children, hardened survivalist/ ex-military types, motherly figures, leaders, and more.
Drysdale does an amazing job of getting you invested and involved in his characters. Watching characters adapt, evolve, grow, regress and mature some more brings a great deal of realism to this novel. Watching the character CJ evolve from a seemingly weak female into a strong supporter, fighter and nurturer was a pleasure. Watching the main protagonist, Rob, grow from a lost wayward man to a successful, albeit reluctant at times, leader was one of the main highlights of this experience.
No One is Safe:
Much like the most beloved fictional works of our times, it seems no one is safe in Drysdale’s world. Just as you start to really like a character and enjoy reading of their successes they can be taken from you.
Unique Take on Zombies:
The “zombies” in this book aren’t typical zombies. They’re more your 28 Days Later infected variety of ravenous killer. These former humans have been infected by a mutated rabies virus that spreads much faster than it can be possibly be contained. The infected in this book, which we’ll still refer to as “zombies” since the line between the two has blurred so much in recent years, are both fast and slow. When no prey is around they simply shamble around in an almost dormant state. As soon as they sense a meal they leap into action and possess almost superhuman speed. It’s a creepy combination of slow and fast zombies that works very well.
For Those In Peril On The Sea takes a fresh and unique approach to the typical zombie story. The characters aren’t just using the sea to get from one location to another. They’re living on the water to take advantage of the fact that the infected won’t tread into deep water to pursue them. They rely on the sea and become part of a floating community that depends on the resources the sea provides while simultaneously struggling to overcome the obstacles it throws their way.
The Author Has Truly Impressive Knowledge:
The author’s knowledge of boating and the real life locations he thrusts his characters into is very impressive. This knowledge makes the story that much more enjoyable to read.
Some Very Scary Scenarios:
There are plenty of gory and horrific encounters in this book. There is just the right amount of gore and blood without it being gratuitous. One of my favorite aspects when reading this book was being drawn in by the mistakes characters make when escaping from the infected. Like a good horror movie this novel has a few “why on earth would you do that!?” moments that leave the characters trapped and facing certain death. Two of my absolute favorite moments are when characters are trapped in a beached shipping container and a lighthouse. These are truly vivid scenarios. You can almost feel, hear and see the infected clawing to get at the characters. These moments keep you turning the pages and extending your reading time to “just a few more pages.”
The Concept of “Drifters”:
Anyone that has spent any time boating, even on small inland lakes, knows there is always some sort of debris floating around. This is even more true after a major storm. Growing up boating on the Great Lakes of the U.S. I know it isn’t unusual to encounter coolers, logs, pieces of driftwood,submerged trees and even entire picnic tables bobbing just at the surface. When you’re dealing with something as vast as the Atlantic Ocean it’s only magnified.
Mr. Drysdale holds true to the classic zombie canon with his assertion that the infected can’t swim. He does however give them enough wherewithal to cling to floating debris should they find themselves in deep water. He labels these unlucky infected, “drifters” and they are one of the biggest hazards for the survivors at sea. Drifters bob around clinging to debris. They can be found clinging to objects, floating in life jackets they were wearing when they turned, or even pacing around in the life raft they were sheltered in when they turned. These zombies are dangerous because they can approach an anchored vessel nearly silently and have the ability to crawl on board in search of their next feast of flesh.
Meh. (What We Didn’t Like)
There aren’t too many zombie novels that are perfect in our opinion and For Those In Peril On The Sea is no exception. While there honestly wasn’t much to dislike about this book, it did have a few flaws. In the interest of a fair and honest review, let’s discuss some of the aspects of this book we didn’t like so well.
The First Half Moves A Little Slowly:
I’m difficult to please and I’m a reader with a short attention span. For this reason a couple points in the first half of the book moved a little slowly for me at times. It’s nothing significant and there is in no way any needless filler in there that shouldn’t be. The necessary first half of the book naturally builds the plot and sets the scene for the action packed second half. There were a few lulls in the story for me but they served to build tension and help keep the reader on their toes because trouble is never far off.
The second half of this novel moved much more quickly for me and I found it much more difficult to stop reading. If it weren’t for the fact that most of my reading is done late at night when I’m exhausted I would have probably finished the book in a sitting or two.
Lack of Human Conflict:
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of personality conflict in this tale. The characters have passionate arguments and heated debates but that’s about it for the first ¾ of the book. Just as I was beginning to wonder if Drysdale’s view of post-apocalyptic humanity is a little too optimistic he redeemed himself.
Toward the end of the story the reader learns of the evil deeds of one of the characters that was always suspicious. As a reader you always suspect he’s capable of evil but he consistently seems to avoid crossing the line. In the end you realize just how far the character was willing to go to get his way. Even with this conflict and tragedy I still can’t help but wonder if this is too rosy of a picture for society.
Whenever there is tragedy, chaos and society with no law there is someone there to take advantage of it. Perhaps it was just too early in the outbreak, but I’m surprised the survivors didn’t encounter any bands of roving pirates or other non-infected willing to take what they want or needed by force. In dire situation like this I’m not sure humanity would work together so well, even with small groups of survivors.
They were a handful of typos in this book. These were frequent enough to be noticed but they weren’t frequent or severe enough to detract from the story. Most errors were simply omitted words or words that ended up appearing in duplicate. I’ve read many zombie novels and some of them are so poorly edited you can barely read them. In fact there have been a couple books in my own hands that I’ve simply had to stop reading and refuse to review. For Those In Peril On The Sea is nowhere near this bad and just could have used another pass from a fresh set of editing eyes.
Rating and The Final Verdict
We gave For Those in Peril On The Sea a 4.25 out of a best possible 5 star score. In all honesty the book is probably close to warranting a 4.5 or slightly higher but due to missed typos and other minor issues we decide a 4.25 was a fair rating. In the end that’s our useless opinion. We highly recommend it and encourage you to pick up a copy and judge for yourself!
The Final Word: For Those in Peril On The Sea is a welcome and refreshing take on the zombie genre. Drysdale’s novel does a fantastic job of taking the same old zombie story, keeping the right elements and putting just the right spin on the core survival tale elements. The book has a near perfect balance of gore, horror, personal struggle, character development and suspense. It doesn’t bombard you with the typical zombie clichés nor does it use the shambling undead as a crutch. You could easily substitute zombies for another threat on land and the story would be just as engaging. It’s a great read whether or not you’re a fan of zombies and I highly recommend checking it out.
About the Book:
Official Website: http://www.ForThoseInPeril.net (Full of fun facts, interactive maps, zombie fun and more!)
- Paperback: 350 pages
- Publisher: Pictish Beast Publications; 2 edition (March 9, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0956897479
- ISBN-13: 978-0956897473
Buy the Paperback Here:
By the Kindle Version Here:
Disclaimer: The author provided a copy of this book for purposes of review and product giveaways. Please see our Review Policy and Terms for information and complete details on the policies regarding our reviews.