Xombies: Apocalypse Blues
by Walter Greatshell
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Review by Harriet Klausner
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441018352
Date: 29 September 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
For her entire life seventeen-yearold Louise "Lulu" Pangloss has accompanied her nomad mother as they are wanderers roaming from town to town, but never settling down. Mom decides it is time to contact Lulu's elderly father Fred Cowper, who lives in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to demand child support; so they travel from California to confront her alleged dad.
However, just when they track down Fred, a virus dubbed Agent X assaults menstruating women turning them into blue-skinned xombies who by kissing men convert them too. While her mom becomes one of the changed, Lulu proves immune as she suffers from chromosomal primary amenorrhea, which visually means flatter than a board. Fred assists his alleged daughter as they escape with males from the nearby military facility to a submarine. Lulu is the only female amidst over one hundred men and boys who hold her gender culpable for the Apocalypse Blue Xombies plague and fear she will still prove to be Typhoid Mary type carrier, many want to dump her into the sea.
Although most of the exciting story line occurs on board the submarine with survival of the fittest in a Lord of the Flies manner which is an apt description of civilization collapsing inside the "giant phallus" keeping them safe from the disease but not each other. Lulu's chances to live are slimmer than her body because of her gender as the crew blames females for the end of mankind. However, the setting is established even before she is inside the sub when her crazy mom tells Lulu she could not drive to Providence due to blockades, no one is outside anywhere and she found MREs in an abandoned convenience store. Lulu and her mother were probably the only two people unaware of Agent X, as the entire country collapses under the plague's exponential explosion.
Lulu is a terrific character and is for the most the only female for much of the novel. Although seventeen she looks half her age, but that does not matter to many on the vessel who want her tossed aside out of fear that is mindful of the AIDs phobia a decade ago as if the virus is airborne delivered. She understands rather quickly what she is dealing with. It takes everything beyond what the heroine thought she had to survive in a testosterone soup of anger and rage with her being the target due to her gender.
The rest of the cast consists of throwaways and several folks led by Dr. Langhorne and Sandoval who are either selling snake oil or a miracle. Their magical bullet elixir is a terrific late twist that adds to the enjoyment of a well written post-apocalyptic horror thriller that grips the audience from the first xombie to the last as the heroine understands she is living in a fairy tale of death and xombies.