Abandoned Vol. 1

By Sophie Campbell
240 pages, two-color
Published by Tokyopop

Saying that there are a lot of zombies in all forms of media lately is a bit of an understatement. Comics, television, movies, books… you name it, there’s an undead creature begging to eat your brains. With that in mind, I really have to give Sophie Campbell’s The Abandoned a lot of credit; it’s the only one I’ve encountered in the last year or so that over a month later is still creeping me out.

In the small town of Buffalora, Georgia, things are going pretty well for Rylie. She works at a nursing home, has her sights set on the beautiful Naomi, and has a good group of friends to hang out with. Then Hurricane Riley blows into town, and when the rain and winds settle, the biggest problem isn’t the amount of physical damage the hurricane has brought. Now everyone over the age of 23 is a flesh-eating zombie, and Rylie and her friends are fighting for their lives. But can they really forestall the never-ending march of a land of zombies?

Campbell’s opening to The Abandoned is a textbook introduction; we meet Rylie, her family, her friends, and her life in general. It’s only once we have a good idea of what their lives are like that everything goes wrong, so that we have a better idea of just what it is that she’s lost. It’s then that The Abandoned really gets going. Rylie and her friends fighting against the zombies is one of the most genuinely unsettling things I’ve read in a while. Maybe it’s because while Campbell’s zombies are pretty standard versions of the creature (slow, forever marching forward monsters) they learn by example. Inevitably, you end up leading the zombies to yourself as they follow your retreat. And once they’ve found you… well, it’s all but over. Campbell takes the idea of a never-ending army of people who feel no pain to its logical conclusion; you can take out a lot, but sooner or later based on sheer numbers you’re going to lose because they just keep coming, piling on top of you. I also have to give credit to Campbell for showing and not telling in her writing. She never comes out and directly states all the information as to what’s going on, but it’s all there for the reader to piece together. She assumes that his audience is smart enough to understand, never talking down to the reader.

This brutal, unstoppable nature that Campbell has written comes to life in her art. The Abandoned is printed in an attractive two-color format, using red ink as well as black to bring the story to life (so to speak). Campbell draws her characters in all sorts of body types, from voluptuous and full-bodied to rail-skinny, and all points in-between. It’s this smooth, realistic look to the characters that makes what inevitably happens to them all the more terrifying. Campbell doesn’t hold back on the events of The Abandoned; her zombies don’t just nip at your skin, they’re ready to tear you apart and devour you. The Abandoned is definitely not for the squeamish because it might be a bit much to take watching characters that you’ve grown to care about getting dragged to their slow, lingering, painful death. By the time you’re done reading The Abandoned there’s no doubt in your mind that these zombies are a truly dangerous force to be reckoned with.

The Abandoned is easily one of the creepiest books I’ve read in a long time. Campbell takes the idea of a zombie invasion and makes it more horrifying than most people are capable of. TokyoPop’s website indicates that this is the first of three volumes, and I hope that’s the case if only because I’m simultaneously attracted and scared of what she’ll do for an encore. This book will be overwhelming to many readers, but that’s how it should be. I can’t remember the last time I’ve enjoyed being scared so much.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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