“If someone is infected you should quarantine them, or, if you can stomach it, end it for them…” (4 stars)
Source- personal copy
Published by Headline, 2011
Paperback- 344 pages
I’m on a bit of a zombie kick at the moment. I read Warm Bodies a few weeks ago and this is a book I received for my birthday based along similar lines. After buying into the hype of Warm Bodies and feeling perhaps a little bit let down by it, I didn’t really have any particular expectations about this novel, which actually made it all the more enjoyable on the whole. It’s an odd book in its format, but there’s still something inherently appealing about it which I found myself warming to greatly. This is fun, escapist reading.
There’s been a zombie apocalypse (for reasons yet unknown) and bookstore worker Allison Hewitt is barricaded in the store’s break room with several of her colleagues. Handily ensconced with a laptop and access to the military’s emergency wireless network, Allison reaches out to other survivors and blogs about their situation. Allison Hewitt is trapped is an account of her story in a frightening new world.
Allison as a character is amazing. She’s spunky and determined and despite personal stuff going on in her own life (her cancer-ridden mother is out there in the world somewhere or maybe already zombie food), she still kicks zombie ass. She also loves books and there is a funny scene when she inadvertently veers into zombie-ridden territory in the bookstore just to rescue a few, much to her own peril. I’d probably be the same.
My impressions of the other characters are fleeting at best. Some aren’t around long enough to get to know (nature of the beast I guess), but the ones that we do encounter are all well-established and have some degree of depth to them. I liked how Roux also deals with the few personal relationships in this book; even through blog posts the reliance and dependability of the survivors have on one another shines through right from the start. There are some really touching scenes between Allison and her friends, especially Ted. Unfortunately, this does come at the detriment to some of the action-heavy scenes that I had anticipated; this is a zombie book and I had expected a bit more guts and blood than what we actually saw.
Now on to the flaws: at times the format of this novel felt a bit clunky, admittedly. Written in the present tense on Allison’s blog of the events that had occurred to her and her friends in the recent past, I get that it was supposed to read in a diary sense. Though I know why the author chose the tense that she did and that this book was meant to appear ‘current’ and like the reader was there with Allison and experiencing what she did, always in the back of my mind was the notion that this was meant to be a blog post and the tense to me just felt a bit… jarring and odd. This is only a minor gripe however and after a while you tend to forget about it; I have to concede that I can’t think of any other way that the author could have written this book that would have had the same ‘readability’ factor.
Some of the scenes in this book could have been better expanded. There was a fight sequence at the end of the book that left me confused and wondering what the hell went on as it didn’t seem to be explained particularly well. There was also a completely baffling ‘dream’ scenario that Allison had that seemed to take up a lot of pages unnecessarily. Note: you can actually skip over this and it won’t make any difference to the plot. I wished I had.
There are quite a few loopholes in this story that don’t particularly add up. Zombie animals for instance and working wireless routers when the world itself seems to be falling apart. Not everything is fully explained, though that does add a sort of charm to the story. I’m hoping however that this will all be tied together in the author’s next book.
Flaws aside, if you take this novel with a pinch of salt it is both weird and wonderful and well worth a look. After appreciating it so much, I have now added its follow up “Sadie Walker is Stranded” (published last year) to my Amazon wish list. I’m hoping I get the chance to read that at some point soon and it is safe to say (no pun intended), that like Warm Bodies this book has most certainly whetted my appetite for the zombie genre.