Let me preface this review by saying that I have a zombie addiction. I have read all of the Walking Dead comics (even though I have never read a comic book), the novel Rise of the Governor and watched both seasons of the TV show. That being said, my addiction is new, so I have not read anything outside of Kirkman’s work – until now.
I am sure that Rhiannon Frater has been selling a lot more books since Kirkman’s work hit AMC, and I think that is a really good thing – she really deserves it. I’ll admit that I would have never found this novel had it not been for Goodreads.com’s recommendation, and even then I was hesitant to buy it since I am kind of a cheap ass and it was about double what I normally pay. I like to read books out of the mainstream which are generally less expensive – and let’s face it, unknown authors need the sales, I know I do.
The First Days: As the World Dies begins with one of the best ‘gotcha’ scenes – hooking me from the first paragraph. It was interesting to read the author’s notes after the book and find out how she came up with that scene (I won’t ruin it by telling you).
Frater’s two lead characters, Katie the lesbian lawyer turned rescuer and Jenni the battered wife turned badass zombie killer, are a breath of fresh air in a genre filled with male protagonists. The two women add an emotional side to a world gone mad where male characters are usually more concerned with logistics and protection.
I won’t say too much here (I don’t like reviews with spoilers, even hidden ones). What I can say is that I bought the second book in the series went I was only half way finished with this one (because I didn’t want to finish and not be able to continue).
If I had to give some constructive criticism, I would suggest adding more description about the landscape. I have been to Texas, but I was very young. It was hard for me to picture some of the surroundings since I don’t know what the area looks like. I battle this as well, it is easy for a writer to assume the reader knows what the terrain looks like. At first, I was picturing a flat landscape, like a typical Texas oil field, later in the book I found out I was wrong.
Will everyone like this book? Probably not. But don’t dismiss it just because it is a zombie novel. The level of emotion and fighting (both outward and in) drives this book more than the dead things biting people. There is a lot more drama and tension than things jumping out and scaring you.
Frater has not only sold me on the rest of her novels (and I will read all of them unless they get boring), but she has also inspired me to embrace my own writing for what it is not what others want it to be. She wrote this novel long before zombies became popular and self published it long before anyone saw the talent and signed her.
Congrats Rhiannon, great novel!