Pros: As a short story, it’s good
Rating: 4 out of 5
M.D. Massey’s THEM Gabby’s Run: A Them Paranormal Post-Apocalyptic Novel (Volume 4) is ‘volume four’ of the THEM series by publication order, but this short story actually takes place before book zero. (How’s that for confusing?) It can provide an easy ‘in’ for new readers of the series, while the rest of us finally get a look at how kick-ass Gabby was even before she hooked up with Scratch. I’m glad, because I love her as a character and she did need a bit of filling out and backstory. Massey did quite a good job of that here.
Gabby is being trained by “Uncle Tony” to hunt and kill zombies and other such monsters. Tony used to be in the CIA, and he seems to be a lot more interested in what Gabby can do than he is in who she is. She’s never really had a chance to grow up normally. The serum injections she’s received–the ones that enhance her natural abilities–caused her body to more or less stop growing when she was twelve years old. She’s 16, but she doesn’t look it. Sometimes that’s great–she gets underestimated. Sometimes it’s horrible–there are those who pray on the weak, especially children. It also means people on her side don’t take her as seriously as they should.
SPOILER WARNING for other books in the series There seems to be some sort of underlying plot about Gabby trying to find Scratch (from the other three novels), who should be particularly well-affected by the serum, and who supposedly was exposed to the zombie venom and lived. I’m wondering if I’ve missed something, because in later books when he actually received the serum and was exposed to the venom, the venom is still there in his system, and frankly the serum doesn’t seem to improve him as much as it improved Gabby. END SPOILER WARNING
I still really want to find out more about Lorena. There are some serious hints in here that she knows way more than she’s saying, and frankly I’m getting a tad worried about when and how she made her serum.
One cool thing: in order to introduce some basic information about a couple of the odd lifeforms, her teacher, Tony, makes her recite statistics and details back to him in order to test her. It doesn’t go overboard–it’s basic info about two different lifeforms, Tony doesn’t have her go on for pages. It’s one of the slickest info-dumps I’ve seen–kudos to the author.
Gabby ends up trying to help other kids who have been taken by a monster, but it won’t be as easy as anyone thinks it will.
I love this character, I love getting to see the earlier times, and this does make me more eager to see the series continue!