Kissing. References to homosexuality and a discussion of bisexuality. References to gang rape. A brief sex scene.
Okay – A few good points, but with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.
Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy is an internet sensation. The first two books, The First Days and Fighting to Survive, have won the Dead Letter Award for Best Novel from Mail Order Zombie. The First Days was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner. AmericanHorrorBlog calls Rhiannon Frater “a writer to watch.”
The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.
They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form.
Fast-paced and exciting, filled with characters who grab your heart, The First Days: As the World Dies is the beginning of a frightening trilogy.
I’m so torn as to how to review this book because it had several things going for it that I flat out loved, but…it also had one thing that made me want to chuck it across the room several times while reading.
THE FIRST DAYS is basically Thelma and Louise meets The Walking Dead. Jenni is a young battered wife who is about to be eaten by her husband, son, and baby when Katie, a stranger, pulls up in a truck and rescues her. The women quickly bond over their respective losses. Katie lost her wife, and Jenni nearly her whole family. They meet several interesting characters on their escape from Houston including the reluctant leader of a band of survivors they join named Travis. *WARNING* The first scene is one of the most upsetting things I have ever read. Mothers are especially cautioned. *Spoiler* It involves a woman watching her zombie husband eat their baby out of a crib and later what is left of the baby, now a zombie too, tries to get to the mother. Later a different zombie baby, this one an infant, has it’s skull bashed in. *End of Spoiler*
The story is so good. It was initially written as an online serial, so every scene is packed with action, conflict, and zombie killing goodness. And I couldn’t ask for more from a zombie infested world than I got in THE FIRST DAYS. It’s terrifying, chaotic, and full of misinformation and seemingly insurmountable odds. All the secondary characters Jenni and Katie encountered from the husband and wife survivalists holed up in their gun store methodically sniping their infected neighbors, to the Reverend who saves Katie’s life and his dog’s at the expense of his own, were fantastic.
I wish I could just stop there and give this book a glowing recommendation, but I can’t, and it’s mostly because of Jenni. She has the maturity and decision making skills of a thirteen year old. She starts out as one of the most tragic character ever, but quickly shifts into an entirely different person who I wanted to strangle in every scene. The day after her husband eats her baby in front of her, she decided to give lesbianism a try. The day after that, she starts flirting with Travis, smirking when she catches him watching her, getting jealous when she thinks he might like someone else. A character who lived through what she lived through should be barely functioning, not worrying about landing a new boyfriend or giggling about a jerk getting eaten by zombies. Every scene she was in (and as a main character we’re talking half the book if not more) was more ludicrous than the last. Her thoughts, actions, dialog, and facial expressions became a new form of torture to me.
I don’t believe Jenni or Katie would be anywhere near the realm of even beginning to have the slightest inkling of a romantic awareness with anyone yet both women respond the second they meet Travis which is less than two days after surviving an unimaginably horrific loss. Like I said, Jenni should have been catatonic, but Katie’s response was almost more shocking because, up until this point, she had repeatedly proclaimed herself to be a lesbian. Turns out she’s bisexual which is convenient revelation so both women can test the the bonds of their new friendship when a guy comes between them. I’m getting angry again just writing about this.
Overall, certain aspects of THE FIRST DAYS like the worldbuilding and plot, were amazing, while others, like the characterizations, were infuriating to point of ruining the book for me. The second book in the As The World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy series is called FIGHTING TO SURVIVE and will be published on November 8th 2011.