'Sea Sick' by Iain Rob Wright: A Review
218 Pages ***1/2
I love a good zombie novel, as I'm sure most people do. The only real problem surfacing with the genre is that most zombie tales are becoming carbon copies of one another. 'If you've read one, you've read them all.' says a co-worker of mine on multiple occasions, and thus, it has become my mission to prove him wrong. When I say a good zombie story, I'm either looking for an incredibly well written story (Scavengers, Dead Sea) or stories that bring something new to the table (The Rising). Thankfully, I can add 'Sea Sick' to this list. Iain Rob Wright is a new author for me, and truth be told, the only reason I noticed him is because 'Sea Sick' was featured on my Kindle Fire as the daily deal. Intrigued, I made the purchase, promising myself I'd read the book the first opportunity that came my way. Well... readers with families and jobs can attest that finding time for our beloved stories isn't always easy. So, my new zombie story sat collecting some dust at the very bottom of my book queue list. I know... shame on me for letting this little gem get buried, because once I dusted off this title, I couldn't put it down. The tweaks that Wright put on the conventional zombie tale has certainly left me hungry for a second course.
Jack is a good man. After a stint in the military, he returns home to join the British Police force, vowing to protect the innocent and arrest the guilty. However, when his beloved is slain in a brutal gang attack, his life spirals downward uncontrollably. Ordered to take a break by his superiors, Jack is forced to take a recreational cruise to help clear his head. Although, Jack is about to discover that his life will never be normal again.
As the majestic Spirit of Kirkpatrick sets sail, Jack notices that a fair portion of the vacationers are being plagued by a cold like virus. Thinking it's just their poor luck, Jack goes about his business. That is, until those who were simply sick hours ago are now attacking anyone who was healthy before. People are being slaughtered and consumed in some of the most vicious manners conceivable. Jack tries valiantly to save as many lives as possible, until he is overwhelmed by these savage attackers and suffers the same bloody fate as most of the ship's doomed passengers. Any rational person would think "Whelp, that's it. End of the story." but that's not exactly the truth. Jack is damned to repeat that horrible day when the sick turned into killers day after day after day, until he can figure out a way to prevent a catastrophic disaster. As Jack tries different tactics to save the ship, his continual fails bring him dangerously close to the edge of total madness. Will Jack figure out a way to end time's continuous loop of torturous insanity? And if so, what is the cost that the Devil will ask him to pay.
Personally, I loved the twist Wright put into his zombie novel. Adding the time reset factor along with a little black magic makes a putrid brew that quenches my thirst for something different. The story is really slow to get to the point... so much so, that I almost put the book away. However, I'm glad that I decided to tough it out. Once Jack realized he was forced to relive that fateful day, I was hooked. I literally could not put the book down. The story kept me guessing in suspense until the very end. Jack is a very relatable character, with a lot of skeletons in his closet, which is what really brings him to life. His imperfections take him out of the ominous super protagonist category. As an audience, the story isn't quite closed, and I was left feeling slightly unsatisfied. Without spoiling too much, I can't help but wonder if Jack's fight was all in vain. I just wish the story hadn't been so slow to get rolling, otherwise I could have boosted the score of 'Sea Sick', but unfortunately, it sits with an anchoring 3.5 stars.