Pros: Finally, a zombie story with some differences
Rating: 5 out of 5
Zombie and survivalism tales such as Jacqueline Druga’s My Dead World are becoming more and more ubiquitous. I’ve see a number of zombie tales that are clearly dashed out quickly by someone trying to jump on the money-train; most of them are hard to tell apart from one another. Even when you narrow it down to bio-thrillers, the disease is usually fairly straightforward and not particularly interesting. In this case, there are some fascinating changes to how the disease spreads.
Nila is our first-person point-of-view main character. While a lot of the other characters have relevant skill sets, she’s “just” a fast-food worker. She has two daughters (one really sweet and one slightly younger and rather twisted in her own way), and a husband named Paul. Her father set up the cabin the family retreats to, and her completely brilliant brother Bobby, who is high up in the CDC, sends her a satellite phone and tells her it’s time to start stocking the cabin. He promises to call when it’s time for them to leave, and when he does, the family (including Nila’s father and her step-mother Linda) heads out to the now-stocked cabin. When they get to the camp they find someone (Brian Cade) trying to take their things, but end up welcoming him into the fold–he’s an emergency services worker who’s probably the closest thing to a doctor they’ll find in that area.
Next door is Big Bear campground, and the owner, Boswick, is using it as a sanctuary for many of the people who camp there. He and his son Lev–an old friend of Nila’s–do what they can to keep the plague from spreading. It isn’t airborne–it spreads through bodily fluids. But the rate of infection at Big Bear is way higher than it should be. Lev is examining the infected and may have found out some unusual and important details about how they operate.
Meanwhile, Bobby promises he’ll join them just as soon as he can, even if it takes months for him to reach them.
I really enjoy this zombie tale. Sometimes authors advertise a book as a bio-thriller when the virus or whatever only takes up a few minutes of the book, or very clearly is used only as an easy excuse for what the author really wanted to write about. Instead, the virus causing this particular zombie plague is much more interesting. It has effects and details that have a large impact on the events of the story and that alter how the characters choose to act. Also, the rate of infection in the two camps is hugely different, prompting the characters to learn more about their new friends-turned-enemies.
I like the zombies; they have a bit of complexity all their own. The characters gradually come to realize that they’re fighting at least two types of zombies, and they have to figure out what on earth is causing that and how it affects them.
Of course there’s an ongoing argument as to how to handle people who come down with the infection, and that’s one of the biggest, toughest plotlines to read. It’s hard to think about–at what stage do you kill someone? If you wait until they’re all-zombie, you’re risking that they’ll infect someone else. But if you kill before then, aren’t you killing friends and family? It’s a tough question that doesn’t have a good answer.
There are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong. I love the characters; they have a great deal of depth to them. I shed a few tears at one infection case. I loved some of the old hurts that come up, particularly between Nila and Lev.
If you’re looking for a zombified bio-thriller that’s a bit more interesting than the usual, and have an interest in survivalism/preppers, I think you’d enjoy this one.