Slow Burn: Zero Day by Bobby Adair was an exciting, if gruesome book that I actually enjoyed – quite a bit. It opens in Austin, Texas, with a young man Zed Zane. He’s fortifying himself with alcohol in order to get through a lunch with his mom and stepdad, where he plans to ask for money. He’s dreading the visit. Little does he know what really awaits him.
The scene is horrific – a man (apparently a neighbor) is bloody and dead in a chair, his mom is dead on the floor in a pool of blood, and Dan, his stepdad, is hunched over her, blood on his lips. Zed says he’s calling 911 and Dan chases him, biting him on the arm in the process. In self-defense Zed is able to kill him, but he then passes out.
He comes to and realizes his arm is infected. He repeatedly tries calling the police but is unable to get through. When he turns on television he sees that the whole world seems to be in chaos, apparently from a strain of flu. Bodies line the streets – hospitals are overwhelmed. But he doesn’t yet make the connection. When the police finally arrive, instead of showing sympathy, they arrest him.
He is taken to a holding cell and thrown in with other prisoners, who bizarrely begin biting other prisoners. Only Zed and another man named Murphy seem sane. A riot breaks out and the two men seize the opportunity to break out of the cell, but not before Murphy is bitten.
What follows is their journey to a hospital, then a university campus, all the while dodging what seem like hundreds of infected zombie-like people and soldiers and police attempting to control the situation. They meet a man named Jerome in the university gym, and he says he’s from the Center for Disease Control and has information on the disease.
They barricade themselves in another part of the campus, then finally encounter several co-eds and ROTC officers. It’s a standoff between flesh-eating infected people and this small group of seemingly sane people. Murphy, Jerome and Zed have been bitten but seem to be “slow-burners”, meaning their fevers were never as high as those most commonly infected with the disease, thus they have the chance to be immune to its most devastating effects.
Who knew I would enjoy something like this? It’s gory, full of bloody details and plain strange. but it’s also good writing. The drama builds and author Adair has a real flair for this genre, it seems. He also sends a subtle message through his characters that we as a humanity are totally unprepared for a catastrophe – most of us have no knowledge of growing food, sanitizing water, or sustaining life on our own.
I enjoyed the book so much that when I got to the end – at a pivotal moment in the drama – the author announced that it would be continued in Book Two, due out in September, and I was disappointed. I may just have to be around for that, too — though not before reading a couple of romantic comedies first!