“That’s a good name, Raj. Wayangs. I like it.” – Jim, At the Foot of Mount Sinai
In the not-so-distant future, Singapore gets ravaged by zombies, leaving the entire nation crippled with just a few survivors here and there. Three teenagers – Jim, Selina, and Raj – have to use their brains and fight their way through these creatures and look to survive another day before this zombie outbreak ceases to be a problem.
Selina, Guilt-Ridden Survivalist
A fierce fighter who is able to hold her own almost through the whole book, Selina is known for her no-nonsense attitude and fierce strength in surviving and fending off zombies. However, what people may come to realise later is that underneath that brute exterior, her rage is mostly a shield for something she may be afraid to face – herself.
Apart from killing zombies, she kills the backgrounds of the other two characters, naming them as privileged and ignorant of the suffering and troubles of someone from the average community. However, these comments stay as they are, after she gets past the unreliable first impression of someone else. Her fierce combat may also be used as a form of justification or redemption to the mother and child she failed to save out of fear of her own life.
Apart from the constant action and the killing of zombies through the entire novel, a theme which seemed to be existent throughout the story was not just survival, but survivor’s guilt. Somehow or rather, the conversation within the three will have a story or a sliver of justification on their current status slipped into the conversation.
Selina suffers from Survivor’s Guilt channeling her rage from not saving someone from the zombies when she could. Raj and Jim also talk about how their families and friends were good people, but given the choice, they did not want to kill them as zombies. As much as they would have rather the reality to be different, the trio knows they have not much of a choice other than to carry on, and suffer emotionally for it.
Style & Structure
The first thing that struck me about this novel was the immediacy to it. Apart from the first-person narrative, you start right in the thick of things, with no time to explain how things came about and even the name of the protagonist we were introduced to. The pace is set right at the start, and you move along as quickly as the characters.
Also, instead of being set in post-apocalyptic America or the UK, it’s set right at home, gun restrictions and all. Therefore, it was interesting to see how the survivors managed to fight through the zombies (Silent Hill style), together with the typical Singaporean-ness and kiasu-ism that appeared in various pockets on the story.
In the meantime…