Z-Boat by Suzanne Robb
Published: 30 November 2011
Pages: 280 (paperback)
Source: Author for review
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The Earth has been pillaged and polluted; the sun has not broken through the smog for over a decade. The oceans and rivers have all turned toxic. Man’s last hope for survival is to search the ocean depths for alternative fuel, food, and clean water sources. If they fail, mankind will die. The Betty Loo, a search and rescue submarine, captained by Iain Kingston, is hired at for a price no one could refuse. The crew must deal with distrust, sabotage, and spies willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want. What they find on board The Widowmaker the submarine they have been dispatched to help will test each person’s will to survive and force enemies to work together. If they don’t they will all die, and what rises to the surface will bring hell to Earth.
Zombies on a submarine, a small, confined space, thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface – can it be any scarier than this?
Z-Boat opens with a quick recap on the state of the world, overpopulation has taken its toll, resulting in undrinkable water, overly-genetically modified food that has lost its nutritional value, and of course, the fuel is running out. The superpowers have been taken over by military regimes and dictators – education in Russia is far to superior to that of the American educational system, and spies are rife.
The action on the Betty Lou begins with a recap of all the characters – which I really appreciated as the list of characters is quite long, and all of them are introduced into the story right from the beginning. Z-Boat reads like a movie – the first movie that it brought to my mind was Deep Blue Sea – which fits perfectly with the story.
The characters are a mish-mash of different personalities, skills and motives, and part of the mystery is trying to work out who is working with whom, who they are working for, and who they are working against.
I know nothing about submarines, but the explanation of the workings of the sub and the equipment are well written and add to the story – with just enough content to keep it interesting without being bogged down by an overload of information.
There are a few negatives for me in this book – the story takes place over several days, but reads like it is happening all at once, for example there are no references I can remember that refer to the characters sleeping or eating a regular meal. At times the action is a little slow, and other times too fast which made it hard to keep up with what was happening.
This is a good, solid Zombie book – the setting is unique, the characters (although there are many) are easily distinguishable from each other, there is a strong mystery element and the writing is good. Zombies don’t appear in force until the second-half of the book which normally would disappoint me, but in Z-Boat the build-up was worthwhile. With a few touch-ups this could be an excellent book.