I have long been a fan of the comics and watcher of the show, but I haven’t yet dived into any of The Walking Dead novels. But with an impending trip to China and a good experience with Chu’s Lives of Tao books, Typhoon was the perfect book to start with. Chu takes the action across the Pacific, telling a story set after the zombie apocalypse hit China. If you think walkers are bad, wait until there are 700 million of them.
Typhoon follows three characters six months after the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Zhu is a villager who left for the city of Changsha and a good factory job. Elena is an American doing a gap year teaching English before law school who fell in love with Zhu and got trapped in China after things went to shit. Hengyen is a military man who runs their large settlement’s “wind teams” of scavengers. The settlement is in the Hunan province, in the interior of China. The heavily populated coast is for the dead.
The settlement and our three protagonists have achieved some measure of stability, but two discoveries will change everything. On a scavenging mission Zhu discovers that many of the residents of his former village still live, and on another mission Hengyen discovers a “typhoon” of “jiāngshī” sure to easily roll over the settlement. But he has his orders: defend the settlement at all costs and round up everyone living “illegally” outside of the settlement.
In true The Walking Dead fashion, things go wrong and get very dark. But, also like the comics, they end on a bittersweet note. Duty is a major theme.
The Chinese setting was a point of attraction, and Chu gives the stories its own quirks due to the setting. The zombie apocalypse caused remaining leadership to regress into stricter communism—the “Living Revolution” (hey, it still makes more sense than the Commonwealth caste system). A Taoist sect styled the Heaven Monks round up the dead for mysterious purposes. Like seemingly every settlement in The Walking Dead world, they have their own term for zombies—jiāngshī—which literally means “hopping vampire” and is the closest analog to zombie in Chinese folklore.
Chu also gives us plenty of innovative zombie kills—another The Walking Dead trademark—and settlement defense. I particularly appreciated the latter (I have a long post on defending a settlement against zombie attack I started drafting).
On the other hand, Chu’s characters seem unaware of basic rules of zombie canon. I lost track of how many times a character hit a walker somewhere, anywhere other than the head. The plot also at one point hinges on a character heaving the Idiot Ball with great strength.
3.5 of 5 Stars.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of Typhoon via NetGalley.