Author: Tom Leveen
Review: The first thing I noticed while flicking through this novel is that the whole story is told over the course of one day which I found really unique in other zombie novels I have read the story is set usually over weeks so to see a story that just deals with initial chaos which was a very unique setting and I haven’t read a lot of books like this. The opening chapter introduces us to the majority of the main characters, they are a rag-tag and slightly wayward group each with their own teenage problems and hopes with no idea that anything is amiss. Brian is a 50/50 character for me, initially he seemed like a good guy but at times he can come across as a little bit of an ass, especially when he talks about his ex-girlfriend and her anxiety problems – this was the reason he dumped her. In the second chapter the seeds of the outbreak are planted but we haven’t seen any of it yet except for some early stages of infection. So we are only 10% into this novel and the chaos is already unfolding especially in the hospitals and possibly the school too. I have to say I was a little skeptical about this novel as the zombie thing has been done so many times as it becomes very repetitive over time especially if you read a lot of this genre like I do, but I was pleasantly surprised with the layout and format of this novel.
By the time the real chaos ensues at nearly 3pm there was an insane amount of build-up and subtle hints at what was to come and I was really excited for this book to move forward at a fairly rapid pace which is common in zombie novels. Within half an hour the entire school and possibly the country has gone to hell, literally, the infection is spreading like wildfire and everyone is in a complete state of shock and panic with no idea of what to do. At the 1/4 mark in the novel the plot seems to be following the generic plot of every zombie novel but it has a slightly different feel and by this I mean when I have read other zombie novels they are gory but you don’t quite get the scary vibes from them, this one you can literally feel the panic each and every character is experiencing, you feel ready to run yourself and the slightest sound. Within an hour of the chaos beginning a small group of students have managed to barricade themselves in a classroom away from the madness, but Brian is determined to find his sister, Mackenzie and his ex-girlfriend, Laura who were in the eye of the storm when it began.
As we reach the half way point in the novel, Brian and a small group are leaving there haven to rescue Mackenzie from the library and possibly escape the school for good but a portion of their hope is dashed when Tara’s dad who could have accommodated more students is killed and the kids immediately begin to realize how dire the situation actually is and with no sign of help on the way and the entire city going to hell they are on their own and can’t rely on any backup to arrive in a desperate situation. After completing the insane rescue mission to rescue Mackenzie and Cammy where some of the group are lost, Brian beings planning to rescue Laura from a different part of the school where Mackenzie thinks she ran. I was also surprised that it is only about this point in the novel where the word zombie is starting to be used. One of the main objectives of the group is to get a gun stored in one of the boys (now deceased) car and to get out of the school, but Brian knowing this is taking place all over the city is beginning to question whether the city is any safer than the school. After surviving the rescue mission despite losing one person it also comes to light that Chad was bitten and is going to turn but Brian’s mother provides some ways of slowing down the infection.
As we approach the 3/4 mark in the novel Brian comes up with a plan to allow them to escape the school and to find their loved ones but he refuses to do it without Laura who may or may not still be alive within the school. His plan includes sacrificing some of their group which now stands at over 20 but Chad’s truck can only hold 12 people at a push, this may seems cruel but given their situation it is absolutely vital as they can’t risk putting themselves into the firing line. I loved how even though Brian isn’t currently dating Laura he won’t leave her behind despite the fact he has a better chance of surviving if he did. But given the type of book this is I highly doubt the author is going to kill off the protagonist in the last section of the book. As the night draws in the group manage to find Laura but she doesn’t have her medication with her to help Chad and its beginning to look like Chad will be checking out very soon as his symptoms have been rapidly worsening but Brian is steadfast in his determination not to lose anymore friends and to get out of the school alive.
The ending of this novel was amazing, when Brian thinks all hope is lost as he sacrificed his last chance at survival to save his sister, the police and his mother come to the rescue. While 90% of the school is being dealt with by the police there are small pockets of survivors like Brian’s group. Overall there was no rejoicing or celebrating but there was sad and sullen mood and as Brian puts it they feel like monsters for hurting and killing their friends and classmates and even though they survived they all feel like they lost a portion of their humanity which they will never recover. I really hope there will be a sequel to this book detailing what happened next whether they found a cure, did the epidemic gets worse and what happened to the characters. My favorite characters were Brian and Mackenzie and they propped each other up even when it felt like there was no more hope but they found it, I also felt that these two were the most developed characters in the whole book as they had the most backstory. I would highly recommend this book to everyone that likes zombie novels, survival novels or even just wants to try something a little different to what they normally read.
This book was sent to me for review consideration by Abrams & Chronicle
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