After hiding out safely in his Y2K bomb shelter for weeks while the zombie apocalypse rages around him, Jim sets off on a harrowing journey from West Virginia to New Jersey when he is given an indication that his young son is alive.
The book starts slow, but the plot really strengthens over the second half of the book. The other characters that are introduced are more compelling than Jim, and the rogue National Guard regiment that appears in the second half of the book is most compelling of all.
Keene makes a serious attempt to add to zombie canon (zombies are created by demon possession, they are intelligent and malevolent, dead animals as well as humans are possessed), while keeping a base sufficient to appeal to traditional zombie fans (the zombies decay, the brain must be “killed” to stop them, they walk with a shambling gait).
The demonic possession and zombification of literally everything that dies should be truly terrifying, but the sarcastic cracks the zombies constantly make pushes them toward camp. The national guardsmen, on the other hand, are much more horrifying.
The Rising is violent and heavy on mature content even by the standards of its genre.