Every six months or so, I go on a zombie-novel buying binge, and 'Eden' was one of the batch this time around. I generally don't expect too much from the self-published crowd - that may be elitist of me, but let's be honest here - it's hard to find gems among the slop. The only reason I subject myself to let-down after let-down is because I'm a zombie fan.
'Eden', while certainly not the worst novel I've ever read, is by no means the best, either. First of all, there's Monchinski's annoying fabrication of 'Tommy Arlin', the supposed author of the book. Do we really need a nine page preface telling us how cool Tommy Arlin is? Very strange. Then there's an acknowledgements page by Arlin 'himself'. More strangeness. Especially the sentence where he talks about how Hollywood has let us down once again with the most recent version of 'I Am Legend'... a movie that hit the theaters late last year, being talked about in a note by Arlin that's dated 2005. While I agree that the Will Smith IAL was a letdown, come on, let's at least cross-check our dates, shall we? :D
Another thing that really bothered me was the sentence structure used throughout large parts of the book. There's these brief, staccato machine-gun burst sentences that just look... weird. Like there's words missing. An example: "Communal baths erected on the opposite end of the block had hot water. Julie there now, showering." That just sounds odd to me, kind of like Tonto narrating a novel.
But all griping aside, 'Eden' actually turned out to be a fairly decent read. The plot was inventive; the idea of fusing that old flick D.O.A. with the zombie genre is pure genius. The characters are, variously, sympathetic, disgusting, sad, and most of all, human, with all the strength and weakness that implies. The gory details are handled well - there's enough description to make you cringe, but not so much to make you think the author threw it in just to fill up pages with 'yuck factor'. There's a bit too much gun-description-wankery for my tastes, but that's a minor quibble.
All in all, it was a solid effort, and I'll be curious to see what Tomtony Arlchinski writes next.