Sunday, 2 October 2011
The First Days by Rhiannon Frater
The blurb on the back cover describes the story thus "it begins on a peaceful, beautiful morning. Katie, a prosecutor, is driving to work when a dead man jumps into her car and tries to eat her. Elsewhere in the city, Jenni, a housewife, opens a bedroom door to find her husband devouring their infant son.
Fate puts Katie outside Jenni's door when the younger woman flees her zombified family. Fate - and Katie's quick reflexes behinf the wheel - see them safely out of the city while most of the living are chased down by the undead.
The two women begin a cross-Texas odyssey to rescue Jenni's eldest son and hopefully find safety... somewhere... Jenni discovers the great joy of watching a zombie's head explode when she shoots its brains out. Katie learns that her analytical mind is perfect at planning the best attacks and escape routes.
A small, isolated fortified town is their only hope. Fewer than one hundred people have gathered there, clinging to civilization and to hope. They all know the zombies will come for them. But until that day, they will live, and love, and maybe even laugh."
In brief, that's the story. It is very well written with well rounded and developed characters (not just Jenni and Katie) whom you care about and hope will survive. One of my favourite supporting cast was the old lady, Nerit Toombs, who along with her husband runs a gunstore in a tiny village. What I love about Nerit is the fact that she used to be a sniper with the Israeli Army in her younger days. How cool is that? She's just the sort of person you want as back up in a zombie apocalypse because she has lost none of her shooting skills.
Jenni and Katie make a great double act and complement each other very well. Katie tries to avoid combat whenever she can but Jenni relishes in it, especially shooting zombies. Every time she shoots a zombie she sees her husband's face. Theirs was not a happy marriage as he was a drunken monster who'd lash out at her or their children at the slightest provocation. Katie excels in her cerebral skills and is good at making command decisions. Both women suffer great emotional loss. Jenni saw her husband kill her two young children in their home. Katie lost her female spouse to the zombies. Yes, Katie is a lesbian, but not exclusively so as she also finds some males attractive. Both women are fans of George Romero's zombie movies and often comment on them. Most of what Romero depicted in his zombie films was spot on in this apocalypse, although in one detail he was well off mark. The zombies in this novel are of the fast-moving variety. This is probably my one and only quibble with the book as I am not a fan of zombie sprinters. I like my zombies to be of the slow-moving, shambling variety.
That apart, I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish and I can't wait to read book two. That's the big problem with trilogies if you buy them as soon as each part is released you have to wait months for the next part. Part two, called Fighting to Survive is due to be released next month. Book three, called Siege, is slated for an early 2012 release. The First Days is published by Tor and it cost me £8.73 from Amazon instead of the RRP of £9.77. Fans of Mira Grant's Newsflash trilogy and Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead comics ought to lap this novel up. Indeed any fans of zombie literature who appreciate good story telling along with intelligent, well developed characters, should add this to their collection if they haven't already. For those who like fast-paced gorefests, Rhiannon doesn't disappoint in that department either.