book cover of Naming of Parts
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Naming of Parts

(The first book in the Apocalypse Trilogy series)
A Novella by

First off, this isn't a typical Amazon title, rather it is the product of PS Publishing, which puts out limited, signed editions by various science fiction and fantasy authors. Specifically, "Naming of Parts" was limited to 300 hardcover and another 500 paperback copies, all of which have long since sold out from the publisher. That said, there are copies available on the internet, and should the opportunity to acquire a copy present itself, I would strongly recommend doing so.
Generally speaking, I'm not really a fan of zombie fiction (assuming zombie refers to the living dead); the premise strikes me as so absurd, so beyond the realm of possibility, that I just can't suspend my disbelief and enjoy the story. However, in "Naming of Parts", Tim Lebbon had produced a novel that is so perfectly conceived, it is impossible not to be enthralled by it.
First and foremost, his narrator is a twelve year old boy, Jack. By telling his tale through Jack's eyes, Lebbon is able heighten the horror of the situation. To a young boy, the world is full of possibilities, many of them grim, and by choosing a boy as his narrative focus, Lebbon is able to strip away the incredulousness of the adult reader. Secondly, Lebbon only alludes to the cause of the zombie infestation without getting into explicit causes. As such, there is the implication that there is a scientific explanation for what happened. In this regard, "Naming of Parts" is strongly reminiscent of Matheson's "I Am Legend" which uses biology to explain vampires. By taking this approach, both authors are able to ground the unbelievable in some semblance of reality, which makes their writing all the more menacing.
Finally, Lebbon's zombies are pervasive; everything in nature, from the grass to squirrels to humans is alive in appearance, but already dead inside. There is a sense of winding down, of inertia, about Lebbon's creations. While they are menacing and dangerous in their own right, there is at least the possibility for Jack and his family to carry on because the zombies seem to lose their edge with every passing minute.
All of these elements are key to the success of "Naming of Parts", but what really makes it stand out is the relationship between Jack and his parents. Neither a child nor an adult, Jack's in between age makes him perfect main character. In particular, in a world turned on end, Jack both wants to protect and be protect by his parents. In fact, the book takes its title from Jack's attempt to be brave and adult by naming the parts of his fears (i.e. the window blowing, the tree tapping on his window, etc.), but how does one name the unbelievable? Such sentiment could easily be overblown and maudlin, but Lebbon deftly captures the poignancy of this interaction without bogging down in Hallmark card sentiment.
The first of a projected four part series for PS Publishing, "Naming of Parts" is a must read for fans of apocalyptic or zombie fiction. Lebbon explores genres that are full of retreads from entirely new angles, and his writing is superb. Containing the perfect blend of tension, fear and hope, this is a tale that is well worth seeking out.
Jake Mohlman

Genre: Horror

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