Juggernaut by Adam Baker
They searched for GOLD. They found DEATH.
Seven mercenaries journey deep into the desert in search of Saddam’s gold. They form an unlikely crew of battle-scarred privateers, killers and thieves, veterans of a dozen war zones, each of them anxious to make one last score before their luck runs out.
They will soon find themselves marooned among ancient ruins, caught in a desperate battle for their lives, confronted by greed, betrayal, and an army that won’t stay dead…
Outpost, Adam Baker’s debut novel, was an unexpected highlight of last year. Creepy, action-packed, with a cast of memorable characters and a darker than dark story it most definitely earned its spot on my book of the year list. When my copy of Juggernaut arrived, I have to admit that my expectations were extremely high.
Like its predecessor, Juggernaut features a strong female protagonist as its main character. Lucy leads the group of mercenaries from the front and she is just as tough as any of her male counterparts. She is ex Special Forces and her calm under pressure makes for an engrossing character. She doesn’t panic, she doesn’t flinch, and she just does whatever needs to be done. Like the lead character in Outpost, there is an inherent inner-strength that starts to shine through as the plot unfolds.
The rest of the mercs are a rag tag group. My personal favourite was the South African team member, Voss, who has a habit blowing things up and chewing tobacco. I have to admit I kept picturing Jesse Ventura as Blain in Predator every time he appeared. My only minor disappointment was that Voss never delivered the line “I ain’t got time to bleed” in a South African accent.
The northwestern Iraqi desert is an ideal backdrop for this story. While war rages far to the south, the blistering heat, inhospitable terrain and desolate landscape creates a sense of isolation. This isn’t just mercenaries against hordes of undead but also against their surroundings. As the action escalates and the odds of surviving reduce by the second there is a palpable air of desperation.
I continue to be impressed by Baker’s work and Juggernaut expertly showcases a rising talent in the genre. Be prepared for a tale featuring zombies of mass destruction that seamlessly blends together political intrigue with shockingly graphic body horror.
Juggernaut functions as a prequel to Outpost and fills in some, but not all, of the intentional blanks that appeared in the first novel. The reader gets to learn at least a partial origin to the virus that is causing all the mayhem. There are also some insightful flashbacks that shed light on the shadowy government officials who are trying to control it. There are, however, still enough gaps and a tantalising epilogue that makes me think there may be at least one more novel to come. If not, I will be happy to start the campaign here and now that demands that Adam Baker writes one. Juggernaut and Outpost are both masterful works that I would recommend to any reader that enjoys absorbing horror. Mr. Baker is an author that has a flair for the apocalyptic and I’m already looking forward to his next novel.
I have my own mental checklist when it comes to zombie novels like this. I’m looking for seemingly hopeless situations, futile gestures made by characters that know they are living on borrowed time, small groups facing insurmountable odds and a climax that takes has you sat on the edge of your seat. The good news is that Juggernaut delivers all of this and more. Sure there are a plethora of zombie books out there but there is a world of difference between a zombie novel and a zombie novel done well. This falls firmly into the later category.
Juggernaut is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is released on 16th February 2012. I urge you to seek it out, especially if you enjoyed Outpost, you will not be disappointed. In fact if you haven’t read Outpost buy that as well and enjoy them both.