Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Killing Moon

by Rod Glenn


Testosterone and cordite waft off the pages of this post-apocalyptic tale from the very start. It's set in the near future, when escalating conflicts have led to the accidental release of a manufactured virus. The infection has wiped out most of the population, spreading panic and leading to the collapse of civilisation as we know it.

Most of the action takes place 20 years after the cataclysm, and it centres on a group of young people living in a small settlement in northern England. Nature has reclaimed the cities and roads, and the survivors have had to adjust to life without modern conveniences or communications. Their rural community is slowly picking up the threads of life when three newcomers arrive. Their appearance soon shatters the peaceful scene, and the friends undertake a nightmarish journey to the Black City.

One thing that stands out about this book is its sheer violence. Trigger-happy soldiers, warring gangs, hideous diseases and mutated "crazies" abound. Whether it's death, scenes of violations or fruity language, Rod Glenn doesn't hold anything back. It's full of the kind of casual violence that the prudish, the easily offended, very young children and those with high blood pressure or a heart condition should avoid. Consult your doctor before reading this novel.

The trouble with this kind of full-on action goes deeper than a feeling of "won't anyone think of the children!" It gets in the way of the suspense. The threat of impending violence is usually more potent than actual violence. But in The Killing Moon the characters get beaten up, shot at or blown up so often that there's little opportunity to worry about what's around the corner for them. There may be monsters galore, but the monster you don't see is always far, far more terrifying than the one you do.

Another problem with the high body count is that it means the introduction of a lot of secondary characters who we meet briefly, only for them never to return again. Kyle, Ritchie, Rob, Joe and Paul are central to the story, but they don't even appear in the first 60 pages. They are the most engaging characters, so it's a shame they're not around more. Rob and Joe are particularly likeable, with their reckless enthusiasm for life and their fascination for aircraft.

One thing that bears mentioning is the proofreading, or rather the lack of it. If you're the kind of reader who notices typos you may find the high number of them distracting. Even though this is unrelated to the story it can break your immersion in it.*

The good news is, The Killing Moon tends to improve as it progresses. Descriptions of the Black City aka Middlesbrough, and the decaying wastelands of the north are detailed and atmospheric. The importance of friendship is brought to the fore as the characters endure separation and hardship, and the main characters grow more rounded with time. It's a vicious and action-heavy narrative, but it's not without redeeming features.

*This comment on proofreading applies to the first edition.

Book Details

Year: 2009

Categories: Books

  Science fiction
  Not For The Squeamish  

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2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson


Rod Glenn     13th February, 2010 16:27pm

Thanks for taking the time to review The Killing Moon. You'll be interested to know that a revised edition is being released in March that has rectified the grammatical errors in the first edition.

Ros     14th February, 2010 23:46pm

Thanks for the update Rod.

Jim Wright     17th March, 2010 17:55pm

I came across a copy of this in my local Waterstone's. I love post-apocalyptic stories - I Am Legend is a particular favourite of mine. I did notice one or two errors, so I assume it was the first edition. I'm from the north east and recognised many of the locations, so maybe I'm a little bias, but I found myself rivetted right from the Chinese invasion right the way through to the climax in Middlesbrough. Yes, it was violent (extremely so in places), but I found the violence in context with the story. The five friends were portrayed beautifully. The plot at times is very complicated - I struggled at times to work out who was working for who out of the various organisations and gangs, but maybe that was intentional to fuel the mistrust and anxiety that builds up throughout. At times the author went into too much technical detail of things like military equipment - all I really need to know is if it's a shotgun - I don't need to know that it's a Mossberg Whatever Mark II. Having said that, I don't think it detracted from the story - I certainly finished it very quickly and it's not a short novel (320ish pages). Overall a very good read - gritty, a little disturbing in places, but that's balanced by some decent humour. I'd probably give it 3.5 out of 5.

Conner S     9th April, 2010 13:54pm

I bought a copy of this from a marketplace seller on Amazon (much cheaper than Amazon are selling it for!). I have to say I couldn't put it down. I travel to and from work on the train, so I have ample time to read and I finished it in a week. I've never been to any of the locations, but I found the vivid descriptions excellent. There is a LOT of violence and a couple of scenes particularly disturbed me. OTT? Close at times, but very good. My wife's not a big reader, but she's giving it a go too just to shut me up.

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