I don’t read much zombie fiction, but I enjoyed Peter Clines’ 14, and his The Junkie Quatrain has been sitting in my Audible library for two years, so I decided to give it a try. It contains four inter-connected zombie stories that are actually the same story told from four different perspectives. Each story starts with the sentence “Six months ago, the world ended” and proceeds to tell of events that have happened since a virus outbreak in China six months previously. Those who’ve been infected quickly lose their humanity and become mindless killer “Junkies” who prey on other humans. They don’t live long. The world’s population has been decimated, most government and civil structures have been demolished, and those who are still unaffected wall themselves off in sanctuaries.
In the first story, “Codependent,” we meet Holly, a woman who is trying to find a sanctuary that will let her in. When she meets up with another woman in the same situation, they travel together for a while before things end badly.
In “Predator and Prey,” a small team of “Outsiders” has been hired to pick up some medical equipment and deliver it to some researchers. When they stumble upon a cache of weapons by mistake, they make an enemy.
In “Strictly Professional,” we meet Sam Clemens (no relation to the writer), a doctor who will be working with a research lab to try to find a cure for the virus.
In “Confidentiality,” we meet an assassin/mercenary who has taken advantage of the new world order to earn money with his professional skills.
By themselves, none of these stories is particularly special, but all of the characters show up in each story (because it is all the same story told from their different perspectives), and together they make up the pieces of a puzzle that are fun to put together. You can read the stories in any order and by the end you will pick up clues that explain the surprising facts about how the world got to be this way. It’s clever, but you won’t get any closure, so it would be nice to see more stories set in this world.
The most interesting thing about The Junkie Quatrain is the question Clines seems to be asking: Who are the monsters in these stories? I came to the conclusion that there are worse things in the world than mindless killers.
The Junkie Quatrain is 4 hours long in audio format and I thought the narrators, Therese Plummer and Christian Rummel, did a great job. You can also purchase a Kindle version.