What a cracking B-movie Iain Rob Wright’s horror novel Sea Sick would make. The story starts with Jack, an angry Brummie copper, taking a lonesome trip on a Mediterranean cruise where he nurses past actions and just wants to read a little Andy McNabb. Unfortunately, his McNabbathon is rudely interrupted by the ship’s passengers going virus-induced crazy and killing the uninfected. In the early pages our protagonist gets killed, only to wake up the next day to see everything happen all over again, and again and again over the following weeks and months.
You could pigeonhole the novel as Groundhog Day with zombies – and I’m sure other reviewers have – but that’s not a bad thing. Jack is the only person who knows how the ‘reset’ day will pan out, which first deepens his depression, but builds into hope as he confronts his past and finds others like him. It ‘ends’ with a thrilling climax as he discovers how the virus affecting the ship came about, having one last day to save the world.
Sprinting ‘zombies’ are something we’ve got used to since Danny Boyle’s 24 Hours Later, but IRW ups the ante a lot with the part involving frantic children trapped on a sports deck – an image not easily erased. Jack thinks he’s stuck in hell, but there’s a way out. And though the way out involves the supernatural (fine because the premise of a day repeating itself is supernatural), it is nicely done.
Top marks, then, for a book that has you racing to the end. There are problems, however. Wright can write something as excellent as this: “It was the smell of a corpse settling into the fabric of its surroundings,” then not long after, write: “… nothing good ever came from giving people guns. If these weapons were to reach Tunisia then they would most certainly result in people’s deaths.” Well, of course. It also really didn’t need the two chapters making the novel’s epilogue. The reader should finish pondering a quite powerful ending instead of changing abruptly from Jack’s perspective. It draws the ending’s sting.
A lot of fun, then, with some real terror. But skip the epilogue.
Note: Image taken from Goodreads.