The Junkie Quatrain: Four connected zombie stories

 

The Junkie Quatrain by Peter Clines fantasy book reviewsThe Junkie Quatrain by Peter Clines

I don’t read much zombie fiction, but I enjoyed Peter Clines14, and his The Junkie Quatrain has been sitting in my Audible library for two years, so I decided to give it a try. It contains four inter-connected zombie stories that are actually the same story told from four different perspectives. Each story starts with the sentence “Six months ago, the world ended” and proceeds to tell of events that have happened since a virus outbreak in China six months previously. Those who’ve been infected quickly lose their humanity and become mindless killer “Junkies” who prey on other humans. They don’t live long. The world’s population has been decimated, most government and civil structures have been demolished, and those who are still unaffected wall themselves off in sanctuaries.

In the first story, “Codependent,” we meet Holly, a woman who is trying to find a sanctuary that will let her in. When she meets up with another woman in the same situation, they travel together for a while before things end badly.

In “Predator and Prey,” a small team of “Outsiders” has been hired to pick up some medical equipment and deliver it to some researchers. When they stumble upon a cache of weapons by mistake, they make an enemy.

In “Strictly Professional,” we meet Sam Clemens (no relation to the writer), a doctor who will be working with a research lab to try to find a cure for the virus.

In “Confidentiality,” we meet an assassin/mercenary who has taken advantage of the new world order to earn money with his professional skills.

By themselves, none of these stories is particularly special, but all of the characters show up in each story (because it is all the same story told from their different perspectives), and together they make up the pieces of a puzzle that are fun to put together. You can read the stories in any order and by the end you will pick up clues that explain the surprising facts about how the world got to be this way. It’s clever, but you won’t get any closure, so it would be nice to see more stories set in this world.

The most interesting thing about The Junkie Quatrain is the question Clines seems to be asking: Who are the monsters in these stories? I came to the conclusion that there are worse things in the world than mindless killers.

The Junkie Quatrain is 4 hours long in audio format and I thought the narrators, Therese Plummer and Christian Rummel, did a great job. You can also purchase a Kindle version.

Published in 2012. Six months ago, the world ended. The Baugh Contagion swept across the planet. Its victims were left twitching, adrenalized cannibals that quickly became known as Junkies. Civilization crumbled as people created isolated safe havens to hide from the infected… and the possibly-infected. Now, as society nears a tipping point, lives will intersect and intertwine across two days in a desolate city. THE JUNKIE QUATRAIN is four tales of survival, and four types of post-apocalypse story. Because the end of the world means different things for different people. Loss. Opportunity. Hope. Or maybe just another day on the job.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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