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Book Review: Gregory Solis Returns With Rise & Walk Pathogen

Rise & Walk: Pathogen is Gregory Solis’s sequel to his 2007 debut novel, Rise & Walk.  The sequel has been a long time coming and I would be lying if I said I remembered all of the details from the original novel Mr. Solis put out six and a half years ago.  Thankfully, a refresher of my review of the first book and jumping right into this new tale brought me up to speed.

In Rise & Walk we are introduced to Tony and Mason, two members of a paint ball team who have arrived in the mountains for a tournament.  Not so far away, parts of a strange meteor have landed, causing a pathogen to infect the living, turning them into the undead.  As things go south and the dead begin devouring the living wholesale, the two men join up with two young women who work at the local general store at the lake where the tournament is supposed to take place.  Together, they flee into the mountains and must cope with the onslaught of the undead while also dealing with the even more dangerous living.

Click here to read a sample of Rise & Walk

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The original novel, as I had described it in my review, was entertaining zombie fare, though the author’s writing was a bit rough, as is often the case with a debut novel.  There was a lot of enthusiasm for the material and the story was fun, if perhaps lacking in emotional depth.  This was a simple adventure novel for the zombie enthusiast to enjoy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The book was fun-a quick and easy read.  I say all this not to disparage this original story, but more as a way to point out the differences between it and this new book.

Rise & Walk: Pathogen is a distinctly different novel from the first.  Not the story itself.  It starts off where the last book ended, and follows our four survivors on day two of their efforts to avoid getting devoured.  Mason wants to return to Berkley, where he and Tony are from, to make sure his family is safe, while Tony is more inclined to help Nikki and her quest to find her own parents in the small town of Whisper where this story takes place.  Where things differ between the two books, by my estimation, is in the character development and the polish the author shows in his writing.  The tension and dialog between the characters feels more real, this story has a broader scope (with a villain that is both far more menacing and yet far more subtle than in the first book), and the author caused me to care about what happens to these people.  Even his secondary characters are far more intriguing, especially Margaret, whose story is quite touching.  There are a few typos here and there, but nothing too noticeable.  Overall, this is a far more well-crafted effort.

It has been a long time coming since Mr. Solis wrote his debut novel, but the sequel was worth the wait and was a very pleasant surprise.  My hope is that the third book in the saga takes a few years less than the six to get published, because I am definitely looking forward to what I presume is the climax of this zombie saga.