Severed is a nice take on the zombie idea even if it isn't really a zombie novel. A strange virus takes hold of downtown London and literally severed the soul from the physical body. The disembodied part of the person rises to the sky and hovers with the other "ghosts" in a halo formation while the physical body is left on earth with impaired reason and randomly committing violence in zombie-like fashion. Or as Professor Stephen Hobbs, our somewhat unlikeable and relationally challenged protagonist would put it, their emotion becomes separated from their reason. While the leaders look to find the antidote to this disease, Stephen Hobbs is given the task to figure out what it is and find out how to reunite the divided part of the persons to a healthy whole while dealing with his own messed up life.
It's a brilliant idea and author Stephen Fry should be given credit for taking on what is probably a difficult plot to pull off. Asides from Professor Hobbs, we learn abut other characters in the danger zone and out. Most of them come together somewhere in that messed up relationship cycle I implied to earlier. And this becomes one of the biggest problems of what is essentially an very entertaining novel. The separate viewpoints fragment the action especially since most of them do not come together until late in the novel. It becomes a little annoying since we are really wondering what the hell those "ghosts" are doing up there. With the arguable exception of Hobbs, none of the characters really stand out. In a epic sized science fiction horror thriller like this, it is sometime best to focus on the idea rather than the characters and this may have been one of those times. But overall, the book is quite good and blends together a nice amount of psycho-philosophical meanderings with a sci-fi / horror hybrid. This is the second novel I've read by Fry and he is definitely one of the writers to watch for in this genre. Three and a half stars.