Early 5bat! Review: Contaminated by Em Garner

July 19, 2013 Review 0 ★★★★★

Early 5bat! Review: Contaminated by Em GarnerContaminated by Em Garner
Series: Contaminated #1
Genres: Dystopia, Horror
Excerpt: Excerpt
Published by EgmountUSA on July 23, 2013
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Reviewed by: Abigail
5 Stars

Sexual content

Kissing. Vague references to attempted assault

After the Contamination—an epidemic caused by the super-trendy diet drink ThinPro that turned ordinary citizens into violent, uncontrollable creatures—the government rounded up the "Connies" to protect the remaining population. Now, two years later, the rehabilitated are being allowed home, complete with shock collars that will either control, or kill, them.

Velvet Ellis has struggled to care for her ten-year-old sister since her parents were taken in the round up. When she finds her mother in one of the "Kennels," Velvet resolves to do whatever it takes to put her family back together. But the danger isn’t over. It’s beginning all over again…

Gritty and grabbing, Velvet is a harrowing, emotionally charged novel for fans of Carrie Ryan and The Walking Dead.

I wasn't always a zombie fan.  It's taken shows like The Walking Dead and emotionally intelligent books like Sophie Littlefield's Aftermath series to bring me around to the reality that zombies don't have to just be about gore and horror (two things that don't especially appeal to me).  CONTAMINATED is a book about tragedy, determination, and devotion in the wake of an epidemic that just happened to turn a large portion of the population into zombies.

Unlike many stories involving zombies, CONTAMINATED is really focused on the human reaction after the zombie outbreak.  How does the world go on?  How do the children survive?  Em Garner's hauntingly imagined world is one where zombies are gathered up and kenneled like stray dogs.  They are  essentially lobotomized and outfitted with behavioral correcting shock collars and sent home to families that claim them.  Velvet is one of the lucky ones.  She finds her mother and brings her home.  What follows is often excruciatingly painful as this girl, only seventeen herself, is forced to care for a mother who is a shell, and care for her ten year old sister.

The writing is simple and poignant whether describing the quiet agony of a neighbor bringing home her three year old boy from the kennels or the panicked confusion of a wife witnessing the feral transformation of her husband in the produce section of a grocery store.   It's not about gore and savagery, although the human reactions are often every bit as savage as the zombies.  CONTAMINATED is more tender, more bleak, and ultimately more beautiful than I' ever thought a zombie book could be.

The ending is hopeful and ominous at once, so I'm all the more relieved to learn that the author has already finished writing a sequel.  Publication is expected in 2014.

Series Titles

  1. Contaminated

Similar Titles

  •  The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan
  • Banished by Sophie Littlefield
  • The New Hunger by Isaac Marion
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