Dave Vs. the Monsters: Emergence by John Birmingham

Rating 8.0/10
An unflinching tale of axes and monsters who meet an entertaining yet bloody end.

From the author who brought us the Without Warning series comes a new trilogy beginning with Dave Vs. the Monsters: Emergence. Dave Vs. the Monsters: Resistance and Dave Vs. the Monsters: Ascendance completes the trilogy.

In the same vein as the comedy horror movie Shaun of the Dead, Emergence tells of an oil rig that drills far too deep and unearths a volatile mix of monsters who want to ravage the human world. For a while a barrier has been held between this world and theirs - but not anymore. Our hero is Dave Hooper whose life is anything but great. He has an evil ex-wife and other worries that keep him on the bottle, so little does he know that he, the heavy drinking, hard partying guy with an extra bad hangover from hell is the only human who can save mankind from this new threat.

It's the sort of cliché Hollywood has been shouting about for years; remember the Die Hard series and Evil Dead movies? Dave is the perfect - not so perfect - character to play the hero, or anti-hero if you like, in this novel that reads like a full-length movie. Dave is the sort of man who likes to go through life at his own pace, but when disruption strikes, he has to be a team player and that doesn't go very well for him. He's no team player; he works on his own or not at all, and doesn't want anyone interfering with his work, trying to save himself from the monster invasion. He admits he isn't perfect. He has several sides to his personality which add to the humour of the story. Good Dave, Bad Dave and the rest all serve to create a strong character we all want to read about. His personalities were all the result of coping with his demanding job and keeping his wife happy at home. Eventually, boredom got the better of him, and Dave developed all the personalities - no wonder his wife needed a shrink later. One would have thought that she might have needed to help him out too. No one needs a perfect guy to play the hero here. Dave has to be blunt, hard and strong and not mind throwing his weight around. His flaws make him who he is, and along with punching out a guy in the same predicament as him, he isn't making friends any sooner when the monsters start to come.

Dave and his wife Annie's personalities seem to owe a lot to horror writer Stephen King who wrote the cult novel The Shining, as Dave isn't far removed from Jack Nicholson's character. There are indications that Dave could be becoming much more than human for when he ends up wounded, he is treated but the wound heals quickly due to his speedy metabolism, and hunger pangs that hurt enough to get combat ready Allen reaching for his energy bars. Dave has gone from nobody to somebody who has to tell Heath of JSOC, (Joint Special Operations Command) what he saw as no one else survived their encounter with the monsters. Dave acts as though what he says doesn't matter; it's all a comedy to him as he views authority with distain and their demands even less. Allen and the others mean even less to him - he's a one-man killing machine, but that doesn't mean he's acting without a brain.

When it comes time for Dave to tell Allen what the monsters look like, he finds it hard to let slip that he knew their species names and what they said without feeling like a crazy person. Hunn or Horde and Fangr remain a close secret to him. There are other monsters on the loose and they want to get at him as soon as they reach open air.

One of the exciting parts of this story is that Dave is steadily becoming a monster slayer, yet he doesn't know how, he just knows the names of the monsters he is fighting and what they are saying - he even knows how to kill them, but ask him how and he'll look blank at Allen or anyone else who asks. As the novel progresses, readers would get the idea that Dave could be superhuman almost halfway through due to his increased power and knowledge about the demon species he's already come across.

Dave Vs. the Monsters: Emergence is an unflinching tale of axes and monsters who meet an entertaining yet bloody end at Dave's hands. Just think of Ash from the Evil Dead and you'll be along the right lines. I simply can’t wait for the other book to come along.

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