Well… I’m glad I got this from the library.
The Return Man has been on my radar for a long while now. I remember seeing the author featured in some article online, and then reading about this book and thinking it sounded like a cool idea. It got good reviews on Amazon, and I was tempted several times to buy it around Christmas but didn’t. Finally I got it from the library and I was really looking forward to it.
This is about Henry Marco, AKA “The Return Man”. When the zombie apocalypse hit, the Western U.S. was evacuated and left to the walking dead. Marco stayed, and is hired by survivors in the Safe States to track down their undead loved ones and put them at peace. But now Homeland Security has heard about him, and insist in his cooperation by taking a job that will bring him to California – back to his past, and back to where the zombie outbreak began.
I felt pretty “meh” the whole way through the book. I was entertained enough to keep reading I suppose, but I have the sense that I could have put it down at any point and not particularly cared if I came back to it or not. It takes a LONG time to start to connect to Marco, because you don’t really learn much about him until near the end. There’s one other main character, Wu, and he was bland as well.
I should mention some of the good points of the novel. There’s an overarching theme about grief in all its different forms, and the effect it can have on a person’s state of mind. Seeing Marco grieve for the loved ones he’s lost was a little touching, and it was interesting to see how he and a few other survivors deal with that. There’s also a slightly different twist on zombie lore, and it’s that emotional memories linger slightly in the zombie brain, leading zombies to wander to places that meant a lot to them when they were alive. Not with any intent or purpose, just a weird trick of the human brain that I thought was interesting.
Now for some of the complaints about the storyline itself… for instance, it’s said that Americans evacuated to the east, now called the Safe States, where the Mississippi River helps provide a defendable border. But at another part in the novel, Marco mentions that since walkers don’t breathe, they can walk underwater. Soooo… why does the river help as a defense against the zombies then? There were a couple little issues like that here and there. Also, Marco has apparently been a zombie-killer for hire for about four years but he seems to have a really hard time just taking down a single loner zombie without having to struggle for his life. It got frustrating.
I guess this book just wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I like the unique approach the author took for a topic that’s dangerously close to being overdone, but it didn’t quite work for me.
Sarah Says: 2.5 stars