Post-apocalyptic novels can sometimes be hard to digest. There’s usually a lot going on, and it can get pretty confusing with whatever it is that is causing the end of society. So the key is to have a strong protagonist that you can quickly connect with and follow along on the adventure and in Alex Grass’s Dreck you get just that in Frank Attanasio, who takes nothing from anyone, and the reader can feel comfortable tagging along for the ride in this very strange world.
The Long War happened a while ago, but everything changed after that: populations were decimated; borders don’t really apply anymore, and sickness and disease run rampant, as everyone does what they can to survive, even if it means killing someone else to get it. But this isn’t new to Frank; he saw a lot of horrific and unforgettable things in the Long War, and while things obviously aren’t great now, with his experience, he’s doing pretty well getting by. After getting the necessary training, he spends his day at the mortuary, seeing bodies come in, taking care of them, and seeing they get the last rites they deserve. It’s a rough job but in this doomed world, someone has to do it. And then things start to get weird.
Dreck is something out of a horrific fairytale, a mutilator and a murderer, and one day he shows up on Frank’s slab. He can’t quite believe it’s real, what with its weird-looking antlers that are glowing, and the strange lethal wound that keeps erupting gold coins for some reason. It’s like a nightmare made real, but fortunately, it appears to be dead . . . hopefully. Then a federal agency gives him a call – although “federal” is an inaccurate term for something that doesn’t really exist anymore – saying it has an interest in the corpse and wants him to hold tight until they come to pick it up. Sure, Frank says. Then the mayor gets in touch with one of his stooges, saying he wants the body. What’s going on here? Why does everyone want Dreck’s corpse all of a sudden, and how did they even find out? And then there’s the weird blizzard that just blew in and is really messing with everything and doesn’t seem to be letting up.
Grass does a great job with Dreck both with the story and the characters. You get a feel for Frank right away and know what to expect from him so that when he starts dealing with all the weird things going on, you don’t feel lost. The plot unfolds slowly which works well, because there’s a lot of out of the ordinary to take in, and as the intensity ratchets up you’re ready for it because you’ve got Frank on your side. The writing is gripping and descriptive and keeps the reader interested and hooked from beginning to end.
|Dickinson Publishing Group
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