Gregory Solis’ Rise & Walk is the kind of zombie tale many fans of the genre think of writing day in and day out, but never get a chance either through lack of talent or just lack of motivation. Gregory Solis got to write his and on the surface it’s a decent first novel, albeit with some flaws that keeps it from being good. He has also written a very action-packed zombie story which steps on the gas from the prologue and doesn’t let up until the very end.
The story is a very simple one which many zombie genre fans have played, imagined and replayed it over and over in their minds. Instead of beginning the zombie story during the aftermath of the devastation an outbreak will cause, Solis instead goes right for the beginning. Call it the Z-Hour of the zombie genre. He writes about how it all begins and how quickly the contagion and its reanimated victims quickly multiply at a geometric rate to engulf a small, Northern California community. Unlike George Romero’s films which never fully explained the cause and origin of the zombie pandemic, Rise & Walk uses space debris from a meteor storm and the contents within as the cause of the zombification and the need of its victims to attack and devour the living.
Right from the get-go the action comes in fast and comes in furious. Solis doesn’t skimp on the gore and bloodletting. He describes every zombie attack on a living human with a near-pornographic detail. This splatterpunk style of writing my not be for everyone, but if one was a zombie fan then this should suit them just fine. The chaos caused by the geometrically increasing and advancing horde of zombies was one of the things Solis’ does quite well and something fans of the genre would recognize. People make dumb mistakes as they try to figure out what in the world is going on. Some make the right decisions and live while others do not and become zombies themselves or are just complete devoured.
Where Solis got the action and atmosphere down perfect for a zombie story, the main characters and their development could’ve been done much better. The main leads of Rise & Walk panic just like the rest of the humans, but they seem to recover from the shock of the situation rather too quickly and at times matter-of-factly. As the story progresses there’s really no tension or fear that the four leads (two male and two female) would come to any serious harm. Only those in the periphery of the leads seem fair game for a gruesome end (kids are not given a free pass in this book). The diminished sense of mortal danger in regards to the main leads keeps this book from rising from just being decent.
In the end, despite the flaws in how the main characters are written I will say that Rise & Walk by Gregory Solis is one good first novel from a first-time writer. It shows the writer has a modicum of talent for storytelling and he sure tells a fast-paced and mean zombie story. Fans of the genre should enjoy this book for what it is and hope that it won’t be the last from Gregory Solis.