The end of the world as we know it has been a popular theme for many of the newer novels, and yet it has been around for an extremely long time. One of the more talked about, written about, and televised endings consists of the advent of zombies. Those newly and long dead creatures that began as human now feast on humans for their very survival.
In Mercy, by Joshua Grover-David Patterson, we follow the life of Georgina, a young wife and adopted mother returning from a stint in Ethiopia, when her plane goes down and she is stranded on a deserted island along with several others. The crash itself was somewhat unusual, and that there is actually a deserted island in this day and age is a surprise as well. Along with her is a young girl Tracy, whose mother was killed, the Sky Marshall, who initially does not speak, a flight attendant named Sharon, and Antony, a first class passenger. There are a few other survivors, and yet they are in a coma and Georgina does not expect them to live. There is no medical treatment, no food or water from the wreckage, and certainly no medical supplies.
We hear the entire story through journal entries carefully selected for Georgina by her loving husband to keep her thoughts during her trip. Leaving her young adopted daughter Mercy is one of the hardest things she has ever done, but she feels as though she needs to help in the war torn country that houses Ethiopia. When she is torn from her homecoming by the brutality of the plane wreck, Georgina holds on to her love of Mercy. It is her only real sanity.
The strange events all started with the crash. The few witnesses heard the sound and when the cockpit door opened saw the co-pilot emerge, but only after it appeared as though he had torn out part of the captains throat with his teeth. Although the pilot should have been dead or dying from the injury, he just continues to try to get out of his constraints, albeit in a strangely stiff and uncoordinated manner. The co-pilot lumbered through the cabin before falling on Tracy’s mother, and taking a bite out of her leg as well.
Everything becomes cloudy as the plane begins to lose altitude, with no pilot at the controls, crashing into the ocean. Those few survivors are not sharing their view of the circumstances surrounding the crash, but they are grouping together out of fear and in an effort of survival.
Hoping for rescue and yet worried by what they have seen, they finally begin to talk amongst themselves. Could the attack on the pilot have somehow been zombie related? Of course, that was impossible, those were just stories shared to create fear and entertainment. Yet a chill fear lingered. The smell is what first alerted them to something gone wrong. The strong smell of purification, of flesh left to rot, and abraded by the salt of the ocean created an even stronger stench. The unbelievable sight of dead and partially decomposing bodies coming from the sea sets the tone for the next few weeks on the island. Can they survive on an island when it appears that zombies roam the land?
The wreckage of the plane supplies a fresh group of the undead, working their way from their seat belts and damaged equipment, forcing their freedom in an effort to fulfill their hunger. Can this small group of survivors fend off such a group of zombies long enough for some form of rescue? Is rescue even possible? With the advent of zombies here in this place, what is happening in the rest of the world, and where are their families?
In a world gone mad, in the manner of zombie movies of old, Patterson tells a chilling tale of an unparalleled ending of the earth, as we know it. His characters are amazing and his tale is strong. The fighting and killing is ruthless, and a form of hopelessness transcends to those involved. And yet there is hope, a hope of survival that permeates the entire story.
If you enjoy zombies and dystopian settings, you will enjoy this novel. While I am not a zombie fan (too unbelievable for me), I found the story to be very well told and full of actionable scenes. You should read this book in the daylight, and even then, you may want to pull the blinds and lock the doors. Mercy is chilling and strangely horrific, and even when you think rescue is at hand, think again. There are twists and turns you never see coming.