Friday Book Review: Zombie Attack: Rise of the Horde

After finishing book 1 of Devan Sagliani’s Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde, it was clear why this is listed as both an Amazon best seller and the Goodreads 2012 best zombie/horror e-book of 2012. The narrator, Xander, is a wise beyond his years, katana wielding 16-year-old who is waiting out the zombie apocalypse at Vandenberg AFB. A loner in a small group of mostly military family members who have survived to this point, Xander spends his time practicing martial arts and waiting to be reunited with his soldier brother. When Xander comes across a gang of base bullies tormenting 12-year-old Benji, Xander springs into action with the moves of a young Chuck Norris. In the aftermath, he’s a loner no more and Benji makes a great companion, full of the enthusiasm and excitement which provides a great contrast with Xander’s at times dour and pessimistic view of the world.

When zombie hordes overrun the base, Xander is one of the few that is quick enough and skilled enough to find an escape route. His little shadow, Benji, keeps close and follows along.  Forced to run for their lives, the unlikely duo must outwit fellow survivors, a task made more difficult by Xander’s belligerent teen male posturing and bravado. Much like the sword he carries, Xander is a sharp instrument who doesn’t mind drawing first blood. Benji manages to smooth the rough edges and every time Xander veers toward assholery, Benji pulls him back. It’s a sweet little brother-big brother relationship that left this reader looking forward to meeting Xander’s big brother, Moto, and seeing if that dynamic mirrors this one.

So, there’s relationships, an ineffective government response to zombies, and a rapidly decreasing number of survivors, yet Rise of the Horde doesn’t focus on the blood and gore part of the zombie apocalypse and doesn’t present stereotypical villains. Yes, there are scared townspeople. Yes, there is a crazy cult leader. Yes, there are biker gangs. But the great part of this tale is the care and depth the author uses in describing these so-called villains and their followers. They are individual, memorable, and as capable of evil as they are of redemption. Xander approaches each new encounter with a healthy skepticism of their motives and a tactician’s ability to see past the surface to the moves below.

Certainly one of the best YA zombie books I’ve read, it’s reassuring to know that once you’ve reached the end of Rise of the Horde, Sagliani has a second installment, Zombie Attack: Army of the Dead, available. Zombie Attack! Rise of the Horde is compelling, authentic, and worthy of the reader’s time. If you’ve already read it, let me know what you thought of it in the comments. If you haven’t read it, go buy a copy and update me after you’re done. This one’s a steal, currently at 99 cents on Amazon.

 

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Friday Book Review: Domain of the Dead by Iain McKinnon

Domain of the Dead
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While we at ZERO love the mindless gore and nonstop action of most zombie novels, it’s always nice to get a break from the carnage for a novel that weaves in a solid amount of world building. Domain of the Dead by Iain McKinnon is a zombie novel for the zombie enthusiast who isn’t satisfied with the “Oh God, zombies. Where? Why? When? Who cares.” McKinnon creates a compelling and interesting world in the post-zombie apocalyptic world.

The novel starts with survivor Sarah standing on the roof of the warehouse that’s been shielding her group from the zombie invasion for the past years. With no connection to the outside world and supplies running low, Sarah contemplates taking her life. She’s interrupted the sound of a helicopter. In a last ditch effort to survive, the group takes on the zombie masses and finds an elite force of military personnel capturing W.D’s, as they call them, for experimentation.

While this sounds like your basic zombie novel premises, the game changes when Sarah and her group land on the battleship the soldiers call home. The sea had protected the ship from the invasion and the communication devices kept them in contact and in control by a loosely organized global government. Their mission is to house two scientists tasked with finding a cure. This mission goes poorly.

Domain of the Dead packs in a lot of story into 216 pages. There’s action, adventure, horror, love, and backstory. The characters are crisp in a way that most novels can’t nail. Each character is well written and easily identifiable in action and dialogue. The action is sharp. The action scenes are so well conceived and written that you’ll find yourself mimicking the characters actions.

Even more interesting is the discussions on the infection. Most zombie novels never get into the transmission and vectors associated with the zombie infection. Domain of the Dead jumps headfirst into a scientific theory via the virologists investigating it. The threat of airborne transmission plays a large part in the fear onboard the ship which is an angle not many zombie novels introduce.

The only weak point in this otherwise standout novel is the ending. The cliff hanger ending works for some people, not for others. While we won’t give away any more than that, just know that as soon as you wrap this novel up, you’ll be reaching for the next book in the series. Get it on Domain of the Dead
Kindle or paperback Domain of the Dead
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