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Pariah by Bob Fingerman
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765326270
Date: 03 August 2010 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

It stared in a minute but soon spread like an out of control wildfire around the globe. Bitten people turned into zombies. Now the zombie populace is greater than the purebred humans. They do not think, but instead instinctively seek nourishment by eating mortal flesh. No one knows how the flagellant started but theories abound including the one where this is God keeping his promise to Noah.

In an apartment building at 1620 York Avenue in New York City, a group of survivors hide with the entrance to their building cordoned off. The besieged residents have little water except what they collect from rain; there is neither electricity nor an Internet link. Across the street is a fully stocked supermarket that might as well be in London because zombies own the streets. The survivors come from different walks of life, but Ellen is the sole female except for elderly Ruth. She trusts none of the men, but is especially suspicious of Eddie. They notice a female teenage human walking amidst the eight million zombies stalking Manhattan. The zombies seem to avoid her. They call to her and Mona brings them food and drinks. The teen moves in with them, but danger mounts for her inside and out.

This is an unusual (which says a lot with the zombie inundation) but enthralling horror thriller that has an On The Beach inside of an Escape from New York (with no Snake) feel to the exhilarating story line. The picture for humanity is grim as the emergency has gone viral with no relief in sight.

The zombies cannot plan for their next meal as each time they recklessly dine they reduce their food source; a sort of supply side Malthusian phenomena in which each time they eat they have less available to eat as they have outgrown their sustenance.

The apartment dwellers feels like representatives of a cross section of society. Each has different issues they struggle with even some of a psychologically nature. They are still dealing with their specific pre-zombie pandemic tsuris that is irrelevant but still haunts them as they cannot let go. That holds them prisoner as much as the zombie siege as they know the world was a bad place to live, but now a terrible place to die. Mona is the only hope of the apartment prisoners as she is the solo shopper. Each of her companions see her differently. For instance Ellen wants to mother her and by extension protecting herself; while Eddie wants to use her as he is in some ways like the zombies unable to plan ahead.

Bob Fingerman uses zombie-mania to paint an interesting but grim social commentary as those trapped inside 1620 York Avenue except for Mona are Pariah. There are eight million zombies in the naked city, but they all have one story human flesh obsessive disorder.

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