Stage 3 – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Ken Stark

Stage 3 by Ken Stark is a classic zombie apocalypse novel that follows cynical Hank Mason as he tries to survive the aftermaths of a mysterious virus that is spreading through the world. Packed with battles, escape plans and fears of infection, readers are given a chance to follow Mason as he fights for his survival.

Stark has written a book that fits well into the zombie genre. There are action packed sequences and a real sweetness in the relationship between Mason and ten-year-old Mackenzie, a girl he teams up with. Together they successfully fight off zombie hordes as they start to understand what has happened to the world and where their survival lies. The inclusion of the quest for Mackenzie’s aunt Sarah also adds something to this very simple plot. The writing style is simple, allowing Stage 3 to be a perfect quick read.

However, while true to the classics, Stage 3 offers nothing new to the genre. It is predictable, full of rehashed tropes. There are also stylistic problems with the novel ranging from the overly descriptive prose, which becomes tedious to read, repetitive dialogue and whole passages that do nothing but give Mason and Mackenzie another set of zombies to fight. These problems weigh down the novel, and even die-hard fans of zombie fiction may not be won over by the simple story.

Overall, Stage 3 is a very simple story. It fits into the zombie genre but does not offer anything new. This is a real pity as Stark’s simple writing style, when not bogged down by descriptions, makes for easy reading and would be great with a better suited to a plot with more depth.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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