Review: On Quiet Earth: A Zombie Apocalypse Novel by Chris Kelly

cover of On Quiet Earth by Chris Kelly. Shows a decomposing human zombie.On Quiet Earth: A Zombie Apocalypse Novel by Chris Kelly
Severed Press (May 2020)

155 pages, $9.95 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

At first glance, On Quiet Earth reads like a typical zombie survivor novel. The plot is formulaic—survivors band together, try to outrun zombies, and live in a post-apocalyptic world. What makes Kelly’s take on this genre unique is his sparse prose which, coupled with the psychological aspects of the book, make for an interesting zombie read.

What stands out about Kelly’s writing is the prose itself. Reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway, Kelly focuses on very short, simple sentences and sentence fragments. The story reads almost episodically, and we are given scenes and hints of events instead of a more straightforward narrative piece. This clipped prose serves to heighten the intensity of the scenes, making for a more exciting read. 

Furthermore, Kelly uses the prose to heighten the protagonist’s psychological descent into violence. The sparse prose serves to heighten this, because instead of dealing with complex sentences full of abstractions and psychobabble, the reader is given simple statements, which seem reasonable and logical on the outset, given the circumstances, until the reader is two-thirds of the way through the book and realizes that the speaker is not just fighting and killing to survive, but that it’s almost become an addiction to them. 

While the plot is very typical, Chris Kelly presents a unique take on the zombie genre by creating a character who becomes addicted to violence. This character, coupled with Kelly’s distinct prose, makes for a fast and interesting psychological horror novel set in a zombie apocalypse. 

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