Erik is a man witnessing the beginning of the apocalypse. As he watches the world crumble on his television, he decides that his best bet is to gather up some supplies and head out to a friend's remote cabin in the woods. He can hunker down there, live off the land, and hope that somehow, mankind figures out a way to defeat the undead that have been devouring the living. After a harrowing trip to the local WalMart where he sees the undead starting to pop up all over, Erik manages to make his escape.
Months later, out of food and desperate to find out what has happened to the rest of the world, Erik returns home, only to have his worse fears realized, and far worse...because the zombies aren't the only thing that have it out for humanity. There is a whole new breed of the undead that have risen from the ashes of the apocalypse: ghouls. And these creatures aren't only ravenous for human flesh; they are intelligent and devious as well, having become the leaders of the mindless zombie hoards in their quest to destroy humanity. But there are still survivors, and Erik hooks up with a group of them. His journeys grow more harrowing with every step he takes, and the ghouls are there at every turn, plotting his, and everyone else's, demise.
Tim Long has upped the ante on the traditional zombie novel with Beyond the Barriers. He has created a new breed of undead and a new form of terror for fans of the genre to come to grips with. The ghouls are an enemy with more than just a mindless desire to kill, but a twisted, evil desire to create a hell on earth. I just wish that as intelligent flesh eaters, one or two might be able to resist their all encompassing need to annihilate all that they once were-human. For now, they all seem uniform in their desire to destroy, but I know that the author plans at least one more book, which may reveal more behind the meaning of this new form of undead, and also reveal how evil they truly can be.
As I always try to do, I like to be fair and point out any quibbles I might have had with a particular book. The book, which is a first person narrative, has Erik contemplating and pondering on the horrors that surround him more than I felt was necessary. The nightmarish images of the world around him and the endless terrors he faces speak to those horrors loud and clear, and were far more compelling than his words on the subject, which crop up with a good frequency. Even so, his reactions to this insane world felt natural. I would probably act no different...that is, assuming I lasted all that long and didn't go mad with fear. And again, this is just a minor quibble, but one I felt it only fair to point out.
Even with this slight criticism in mind, this is a fast paced, entertaining read, and I look forward to the next book in this series.