Well, I was greedy and I have only myself to blame. The first book, Lost Valley, was a rather solid entry in the zombie survival genre, so I immediately went on to the next book. This, this was something else, something troubled by uneven structuring, outright bizarre characterization, and even more bizarre developments in zombie capabilities.
Oh, I hear you; ‘it’s a zombie book–what did you expect?’ Honestly, the same thing that I expect from books with A.I.s, aliens, sentient bugs, and vampires. Internally consistent worlds, decent and ideally interesting characterization, and a whole lot of ideas on what survival might look like without our normal forces of Law & Order. In the course of, I don’t know, a month, these zombies turn into… idk, smart, hungry ants? Hunting, food caching and apparently having sex? Just… no (and try and scrub that one out of your visual cortex). It annoyed me even more to read the description about the ‘real’ science. I guess, if you mean ‘science’ as conceived by Republican lawmakers from Oklahoma.
The first 30%, interestingly, is a detailed military mission of a small group entering a zombie-infested area and then attempting extraction. It’s well written and conceived. Cuts to Lost Valley find that things are progressing there. Specifically, John Eric Carver has fallen in LUV with–bear with me now–Hope. Yes. Hope. So now when we check in with his narrative, we have to hear about how ‘real’ this is, and how totally not a symptom of the duress this experience is. Hope is a Mother. And a dope who insists they try and rescue someone in a zombie infested area, so they do.
Meanwhile, the Mean Coyote that John Eric Carver and his dog Shrek unsuccessfully hunted in Lost Valley has it in for Shrek. Oh yes. If you are going to have a dog narrator, you must have a dog antagonist, apparently, but it’s not going to be heartworms. In even more insane developments, a zombie has become BFFs with the Mean Zombie Coyote and they’ve paired up to hunt the Meat. It’s super-dumb, and not even fun at this point.
Back at the last hopes of humanity, Jen, the camp leader, is hanging out in the camps protected by the military. When it becomes clear that the camps are in danger, Jen starts obsessing on how to find the right size tampons. Because that’s always the biggest worry in a zombie apocalypse.I know you think I’m exaggerating, and I admit, there are times when I do. But for real.
People, I can’t even tell you how many more kinds of awful this is. There’s a soldier who has a leg wound from the extraction and gets taken to a destroyer to be treated. There’s a couple of scenes involving helicopters. There’s a completely-out-of-character scene with Jen, who has her own opinion for about two minutes, which makes virtually no sense. I think the author included it to show that women are ‘strong’ when they put a knife to someone’s throat. I have another suggestion for that knife.
Nothing about this story makes sense. The first 1/3 military mission is the only reason it’s not a zero stars, and my own book OCD is the only reason it isn’t a dnf. Read the first book if you like survivalist stories, and consider it a stand-alone.