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23 September 2014

Hollow Shotguns
Khalid Patel
Severest Inks
Publication Date
Dec 2013
Horror, YA, Apocalypse


"To stop a demon, sometimes you must become a demon."

The apocalypse hits. A fierce disease twists civilians into fire-obsessed, flesh-consuming ferals. The threads of society fray, burn...
A band of boys traverse an increasingly darkening world to reach their lone hope of safety.
As the battle for survival escalates, the bounds of the human psyche are bleakly tested.

Hollow Shotguns is the subversive debut of British writer Khalid Patel. Inspired prose, mesmeric dialogue, harrowing gut-wrenches and throat-burning humour sculpt a rebellious narrative that point-blank refuses to conform to convention. This is a bold, breathless dark ride.

Hollow Shotguns is innovative and artful apocalyptic fiction, a socio-political examination of modern society, cerebral horror, and a blood-pulsing trip that challenges as much as it entertains. The offbeat, slang-loaded style of dialogue Khalid Patel employs for Hollow Shotguns is as hypnotic as his beautifully brain-tickling prose.

Hollow Shotguns is subversive literature at its most brutal...

The unsanitized violence.

The scalding social commentary.

The raw challenge.

Be warned, this is not a fucking beach read.

My review:  
A story of growing up as much as a story about zombies and an apocalypse. 

4 teenagers - Mills, Cade, Slash and Zeth form 'The Set' who live in a not-so-desirable part of town. Each have their own problems with parents and siblings. But they stick together, mostly against their arch enemy Thumb, the estate's bully. But after a short intro chapter about each character, things quickly happen here. A virus attacks people and quickly turns them into flesh-eating zombies. The four boys are thrown together and than happen to come across their old enemy pick Thumb - who now, that there is no-one left, becomes their buddy in a fight against the zombies. Old enemies aside, there is now a new battle ground  Well, is not that simple. The five of them try to find their way to the supposed 'safe zone' into the unknown with many adventures on the way. Thumb was probably my favourite character. The bully everyone hates. 

For me, this was not only a flesh-ripping zombie story, but very much a story of growing up, friendship, boys becoming young man. Which is quite ironic actually, because the vaccine they have had against turning into zombies only works as soon as they are not adults. 

I suppose you would need to like the zombie genre to fully enjoy this book. Admittedly, it is probably not for everyone, and definitely not for someone looking for a cosy read. There are nasty things at work, and bloods and guts splatter about. You would also need to get used to the teen language Patel is using - a language these children use in their own communication - no need to use proper language when you have known each other for such a long time and are that good friends. But this took me all but one chapter and than I could easy understand their teenage speak (being a woman of 40+ years :) 

Here an example/ extract

"Unseen, hombre."
"Head-dick better not have dets again, else..."


I enjoy the writing of this author and his prose enormously.
Here is one example: 

The shotgun screams. 

See what I mean. I shotgun does not simple shoot, but screams. I can hear it scream, I can hear the people scream. 

At the same time, if you do enjoy the genre and are a bit fed up of 'same, same' stories, than I would recommend trying this story. Also anyone who likes apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stories. With under 300 pages, this is also not a huge time investment and could even go as a quick weekend-read. Give it a try. 

About the author:  

Khalid Patel is the British writer of cult, underground literature. His works are known for their subversive, unconventional qualities. Challenging narratives, unusual dialogue& beautifully offbeat prose are a staple of his writings. His words, also frequently laced with scalding social commentary & sneaky dark humour, wrenches readers out of their comfort zone for an unforgettable, jolting experience.

An English Literature graduate & culture junkie, Khalid breathes movies (particularly South Korean cinema), comic-books & videogames…passions which frequently seep into his works. He also copiously digs New York, pasta and wearing black shirts.

Khalid Patel advocates activism & the questioning of the status quo. He has supported greater rights for Burma (the birth country of his mother) long before the mass media began highlighting the brutalities & human right atrocities perpetrated by its military junta government. He is also a fierce critic of far-right, fascist outfits such as the English Defence League (EDL); he has attended anti-racism & anti-hate protests where he has engaged in running street battles with Neo-Nazis.

Khalid's stories are often laced with searing socio-political asides, quietly making his readers mull deeper issues whilst they're being entertained. With his writings, Khalid also seeks to disintegrate media-reinforced stereotypes of Muslims & people of brown colour. He is keen to raise the literacy rates of British South Asians, especially males, & hopes his stories more shall catch an interest in literature.

"This kid breaks some rules & he breaks them across people's faces… Khalid Patel represents a new age in fiction. He examines traditional fiction and turns it on its head with technology & innovation." Eryk Pruitt, author of Dirtbag