Be sure to join us this Friday when WITS owner Yvonne Perry welcomes author Michael Presutti to discuss his new book Last Words. In this book, Presutti shares a terrifying story that begins with one man breaching the security of a military installation and releases an airborne biological virus across the skies of the western United States. As people become infected with the disease, they are transformed into disfigured and decaying zombie-like creatures who become intent on murder and destruction. Even close family members are not safe from the growing strength of this mutated beings.
As Last Words progresses, readers will meet some survivors who exhibit amazing determination and a will to survive. They also will experience the growing sense of isolation and fear that grips those who have managed to evade the virus. Last Words is a gripping book that inspires thoughts on the apocalypse and that thin line that we all walk between society and savagery.
Click here to purchase Last Words.
Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: Last Words
Author: Michael Presutti
ISBN Number: 978-1-4327-3743-6
Genre and Target Market: fiction; horror; thriller
Publication Date: 2009
Book Length in Pages: 123
As a child, I was not a fan of movies or books that detailed a violent apocalypse or a Hobbesian return to our primal selves. I was introduced to The Stand by Stephen King and the terrifying mini-series The Day After when I was college, however, and my interest in the darker elements of storytelling started to awaken. My accompanying studies of the Cold War in its waning days focused my attention further on the very real prospect of cataclysmic events affecting our planet. My love for the genre was sealed after marrying my husband, who is a devoted fan of the Sci-Fi Channel. Between ridiculous movies about spiders mutated by radiation, I discovered some serious cinematic commentaries on our current global state. I am now an advocate of the idea that extreme and violent stories of human destruction can provide wonderful insights into how carefully we all walk that line of maintaining a civil sanity. I share this background story to let you know how excited I am to discover author Michael Presutti and his recently published novel, Last Words. Presutti’s novel about traveling hordes of monsters, fratricide, and the daily fight for survival is terrifying and absolutely spellbinding … primarily because the possible reality of such a scenario is not as far-fetched as we might hope.
The author begins Last Words with a prologue that is guaranteed to grip the reader’s attention. We learn that a lone man bent on teaching the world a lesson has infiltrated a military compound and is set to release a deadly virus over the skies of the western United States. This brief and startling introduction is followed by a series of short broadcasts from a cable news network that tracks the progress of the virus as it spreads across the country. After only a week, the transmission signal goes dead. I knew that I was reading a piece of fiction, but I still felt a very real pang of helplessness and frustration with just this hint about the devastation that had occurred. Through his powerfully abrupt language, Presutti does a masterful job of creating emotional investment from his readers right away.
Throughout the pages of Last Words that follow, Presutti invites his readers into the lives of people who are simply trying to survive the virus that spreads to their communities through the ever-growing population of “infected ones.” We meet parents who kill their own children and wives who feel compelled to attack their husbands, all due to the unforgiving virus. With wild eyes and mutilated bodies, the infected beings feast upon human and animal flesh alike. The author creates vivid descriptions of these encounters that are both jarring and utterly fascinating. The visuals play clearly in the mind of the reader with every page that is turned.
One of the most effective ways that Presutti develops his tale of zombie-like predators, the breakdown of society, and the heroic fight for survival is through the short story format he employs. Each chapter is only about ten pages in length but packed with action. This layout creates frantic episodes featuring the lives of those who are desperate to see another sunrise. At no point in Last Words does the reader get a chance to relax or even take a deep breath. Even the interludes between each chapter feature single quotations printed on a stark white background. These words offer thoughts of Armageddon and often the human contribution to the approaching end of the world. Not exactly a respite from the agony felt through the main text of the plotline.
The new novel Last Words by Michael Presutti is a stunning read that leaves its readers thinking long after the final pages are closed. The author creates a scenario that could be campy and almost perversely comical if told from a different perspective. However, he instead develops a novel that delivers relatable characters and a mesmerizing plot. We feel the loneliness of the individuals who have managed to survive the grips of the virus and now long for any connection with another human being. We ache for those who have the charge of protecting our leaders but realize the bunker has become nothing more than an inevitable death trap. We cheer for the few who choose to forge ahead and help as many people as possible along the way. Last Words should be read not only by those who are drawn to the X-Files aspect of the book, but also anyone who can appreciate a story about the human condition under the most unimaginable of circumstances.