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Home > Book, Book Review, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Thriller > Book Review – Outpost by Adam Baker

Book Review – Outpost by Adam Baker

Book Description:

They took the job to escape the world. They didn’t expect the world to end.

Kasker Rampart: a derelict refinery platform moored in the Arctic Ocean. A skeleton crew of fifteen fight boredom and despair as they wait for a relief ship to take them home. But the world beyond their frozen wasteland has gone to hell. Cities lie ravaged by a global pandemic. One by one TV channels die, replaced by silent wavebands. The Rampart crew are marooned. They must survive the long Arctic winter, then make their way home alone. They battle starvation and hypothermia, unaware that the deadly contagion that has devastated the world is heading their way…

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I was really excited to read Adam Baker’s debut novel Outpost since, one, it’s about a zombie post-apocalypse! And two, I found the book description really interesting – like, what would it be like to be one of the fifteen people stuck in a decommissioned oil rig in the Arctic while the rest of the world falls prey to a global pandemic (of zombies)? I found the psychological ramifications of this fascinating – would you prefer to die an instant death or the extended death offered by the temporary refuge of the refinery? How would you react to possibly being one of only a handful of humans left in the planet? Especially for a bunch of people who chose to retire from the world in the first place by hiding out / escaping to the Arctic.

It starts out really great, and I was pretty impressed with Adam Baker when I started reading it. Just the right ratio of description to dialogue, and I thought the writing really flowed smoothly. I thought that the author did a great job of describing the claustrophobic atmosphere and isolation of a virtually abandoned rig in the godforsaken Arctic. And it was really creepy to live inside the characters while they were forced to experience the Zombie apocalypse in absentia – temporarily safe (but stranded) in the Arctic, worrying about their families while watching everything go down in flames on satellite TV. That’s a special kind of hell, don’t you agree? Not that the rig workers are home free, they have a limited supply of fuel & food and will have to decide what to do with the time they do have. The initial POV we get is from Jane – a hopeless, self-hating, obese chaplain just about ready to kill herself from the tedium of daily life – who gets revitalized and resolves to bring the rest of the crew safely home with her. I would have preferred it had Mr. Baker then proceeded to show us the thought processes of the other crew members stranded in the rig too – the psychological study of how different characters react to the same dire situation would’ve been really interesting.

Alas, that was not to be. After that very promising start, Mr Baker suddenly changes the pace, and it becomes a pretty conventional zombie-chase book (albeit with a pretty jarring SciFi slant to the zombies that put me off). The quality of writing literally changes – suddenly, the descriptive passages just drop out, and we’re left with fragments and tons of dialogue and I felt like I was reading a script for a summer blockbuster doomsday movie. It was so disorienting for me, almost like reading a totally different book. I mean, it was still a gripping read – the action was very tense, suspenseful and fast-paced, and it does keep you guessing in what more ways the main characters will be fucked with. I was just disappointed since I was expecting something more unique (and better) from the great start, and I thought it was a pity that we never really get to know majority of the characters in any depth since the focus became more on the action.

There was a part in the latter half of the book that I really liked though – Baker changes the pace again (for a while) and we get to live inside an infected character’s head who slowly transforms into one of the blood-thirsty monsters. It’s heartbreaking to watch as the character loses self-identity gradually, while knowing exactly what’s happening every step of the way. Me? Give me a gun instead to end it quick! Other than that inspired break in pace – the rest of what happens in Outpost is pretty conventional for a post-apocalyptic book, including the predictable ‘non-ending’ — definitely setting up for a book two! Well, I’ll still be up for it should the author write a sequel – Outpost is still a pretty good read for a book in the genre (and for a debut book too) even though the author eventually opted for the more conventional ‘exciting’ action versus psychology / character development.

Outpost by Adam Baker is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition ($7.36).

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  1. November 7, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    good post

    but I have got to say I attempted to read this book and from the start i disliked it, i am a massive fan of anything post-apocalyptic so when i seen it on the selves in Waterstones i knew i was going to buy it straightaway, sadly when i started reading it, i found his writing to but very vague, his characters disappointingly personality-less. i have to admit i didn’t finish the book i disliked it that much, so can’t comment on how it progresses. its sad because the idea of the story is a good one, it had so much potential.

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