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Rise & Walk by Gregory Solis (2007 Hadrian Publishing/Lulu.)  Read more about the author and the novel  here.

     I put a great deal of thought into writing this review before I actually wrote it, and then, I figured, letís say everything for what itís worth. I was compelled to say to author Lee, essentially, hey, have your publisher send it to me and Iíll put it on my reading schedule because I was interested in the subject matter as well as to see what this guy has to offer. Every once in awhile I do get

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interested in literature outside the genre I love to write and, as a result, review. Normally, by the looks of it only by browsing through bookstore shelves, I wouldnít be attracted to it, from its dusk jacket art to its very title. Itís publisher, Englandís environmentally green Blue Zoo, to which those inclined to take seriously the discipline of manufacturing books in an eco-friendly way, which I applaud, did themselves justice in publishing Steve Leeís material, but really sucked in regards to its presentation. I really donít think they know what kind of potential success it is they have on their hands, and as of this writing Steve is still struggling to make a broad name for himself.
     This is his first book, his first public try that Iím aware of in writing something substantial and passionate for the world to read, while at the same time trying to make a statement in a way that doesnít overcome the story itself. Its published form boasts reviews from humanitarians, Catholic and Buddhist priests, people both environmentally conscious and of religious authority. On the official website, it even boasts of its comparison to The Da Vinci Code, which is like selling a tomato by saying itís an eggplant to an audience of eggplant lovers. True, its subject matter can call good attention to it in this regard, and I for one would richly welcome a good review of one of my works by a bishop (yeah, right), or a true scholar or theologian, but I believe this marketing route sells Steveís story short.
     A journalist gets into a nasty car accident only to be rescued by a homeless man she at first assumes is trying to rape her, before blacking out. After realizing the mind-blowing aspects of the situation in how she should have died from the incident and this supposed rapist could have in fact somehow saved her, she begins to learn the truth about this homeless guy. John is his name, and as she, Mary, uncovers the truth about him, about his Christ-like ability to not only heal others just by touching them but to save others from death, we get into the What If title factor, which asks the question, what if someone like this really existed in these contemporary days, someone with the ability to heal by touch and not only that, someone who by wit and reason and selfless demeanor combined with the supernatural abilities to perform substantial miracles existed in current times with a political mindset capable of changing the world where everyone is finally in peaceful harmony?
     With Maryís persuasions and the help of a wealthy devout Muslim with his own reservations, coupled by characters with motives extracurricular to saving the world and with political agendas that incorporate their own ideas of world peace, John decides to invade hospitals all across the United States and heals scores of people, develops a big fan base and stirs up a windstorm of media frenzy and public speculation to where most consider him an elusive prophet and godsend and other people either want him dead or desire his secrets.
     Throughout the story, Steve Lee imposes questions about the great What If, mostly in Johnís very down-to-earth but nevertheless Messiah-like observations and dialog, but Lee himself never preaches, sticks to his storytelling flow without sidestepping noticeably, and even if heís trying to state a point philosophically he never loses course in moving the tale along. The book is virtually flawless in that Leeís vision is precise, poetic, skillfully crafted in the ways of what it takes to actually tell a story as to convey it like a writer whoís been doing this sort of thing professionally for many years. Itís entertaining and pulls the reader along in the sort of richly satisfying way that makes for broad appeal, and I enjoyed it on a different kind of level from my usual fantasy/horror persuasions.
In the same manner as Johnís ability to healÖÖthis book, after absorbing it, satisfied me and enriched me somehow, and itís not necessarily due to any kind of message as is exploited in its marketing, but itís simply because itís damn good storytelling with a What If that actually gets answered at the end in a very realistic way.


 

are at the center of both, with some subtle twists. Each are novels by first time authors (at least first time in literatureís public eye), both authors made their decisions to self publish (Solisí is from Lulu and Adelmundís is originally from Authorhouse), and the books themselves are attractive enough to garner my attention should I have come across them completely independently while perusing a book store shelf before never having heard of them or their authors.
     And both authors are self-promotional powerhouses. Before I get into each, respectively, Gregory and Steve are both bright and shining examples of real writers with raw ambition, sporting the abilities to not only sit and decide well hell, Iím going to write a novel, and then to follow through with it, but they took on the reigns of promoting the shit out of their works in very impressive ways, all the while doing everything themselves with a little help from their friends.
     Letís start with Rise and Walk. A junior college professor takes a handful of his students to a remote outskirts to investigate a fallen meteor and set up camp around it and study their findings. The meteor is mishandled, spewing a very Stephen-King-in-Creepshow misty greenness all over the teacher and a few pupils. Almost immediately, they start exhibiting signs of the living dead, and, as it happens with the living dead, they go after the remaining humans, infecting them, and their growing masses descend upon a group of paintball enthusiasts who are making a night of indulging in their favorite pastime not far away. Itís all traditional zombie fare from there, with a ragtag group of survivors who must fend off the walking corpses, must deal with their own lack of the resources they need, their wits and strengths, and at one point there is a standoff where main characters seek refuge in a lone shack where their efforts to board themselves up inside prove futile because persistent zombies never get the hint that theyíre not wanted in situations like that.
     Though itís highly readable and enjoyable it contains both the elements of a writer at the beginning of a promising career with some of the pitfalls of one who has yet to find his voice and infuse the sort of poetry in the story prose which is ultimately defining. And in this present day, with the market flooding with traditional lore such as in the case of vampires and zombies and the like, a writer must seek a strong sense of originality that goes beyond tradition, like looking outside the box, and itís possible to do that while still paying homage to the great zombie icons such as Romero, as Solis (and Adelmund as well) intends to do.
     That said, Solisí Rise and Walk has a massive appeal to it, hands down, and this author deserves attention as his continuation in further writing will well earn the recognition of all of us and I am anxious to read what he will do next. As for what heís done already, he sports a Bachelors degree in Cinema at San Francisco State University and founder of Hadrian Publishing.
 

 

What If.....? by  Steve N. Lee (2007 Blue Zoo) Read more about the author & book  here.)

 

 

     Gregory Solisí Rise and Walk was a book I had absorbed on my way to the World Horror Con in Salt Lake on a train, finished it on the train ride home and went on to the next book to read, Steven J. Adelmundís The Hunger, which was similar to Solisí novel in many regards, so Iíll address them together here. Zombies, particularly the slow-moving classic Romero sort, the living dead the way Romero defined and most of us know,

 
 

 

The Hunger by Steven J. Adelmund (2007 Authorhouse.)  Read more about the author and the novel  here.

     Now, on to The Steve, and his The Hunger.
     Steven J. Adelmundís zombie tale starts off with a very post-9/11-ish modern-day terrorist origin methodology, where a Muslim extremist at Spring Valley University injects himself with a zombie serum essentially formulated right there on campus, succumbs to his own undeath, and then attacks and scratches the person nearest him which brings about the inevitably horrible plague in no time. We are then introduced to Michael and Brian, who pack their belongings and

set out for the university to begin their college education.  They become educated, to say the least, when they get there, but none of what they learn was what they expected to.  When they arrive in town, one zombie encounter leads to another which leads to their true eventual plight, where the town itself as well as the university is overcome by the living dead, and they must join forces with a stereotypically selfish town mayor and his more-down-to-earth and frightened teenage daughter.  Twists of note in the plot involve the fact that an antidote to the plague, should one become infected, exists within the bowels of the university laboratories, and that this particular epidemic infects even the local animals and birds.

       The plot unfolds predictably in this fashion, where the storyís strengths are the characters and the authorís ability to hold the readerís interest and maintain the action, to which thereís scarcely a dull moment.  With The Hunger, we see an author at the beginning of being able to tap into his personal style and strengths and express his evident passion through the sort of trial and error in writing that comes with years of experience.  This is another writer to watch, and this book exhibits a seasoned horror scribe in the making. 

     Steven Adelmund is actually a reverend, ordained by the Universal Life Church and proclaims himself a Christian (a man after my own convictions, and, likewise, doesnít give a ratís ass about following other peopleís perceptions of what is straight and narrow), and his web presence is astounding, with his fingers in many online avenues.  In my opinion, from what Iíve seen and read, The Steve rocks.

      You know what I think?  I think if Solis and Adelmund got together creatively, did the ultimate zombie story as a duo, if just for that one time, they would be a force to be reckoned with and twice as much as they are, without a doubt, separately.