Sunday, 2 October 2011

The First Days by Rhiannon Frater

The First Days by Rhiannon Frater is book one of her As The World Dies trilogy. According to Rhiannon the world dies "not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with the rending and tearing of flesh." Once again, we are in Zombie apocalypse territory but this novel differs from many other similarly themed novels by having two female protaganists taking centre stage. It makes a refreshing change to view the start of the zombie apocalypse through the eyes of a female.
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.

25 comments:

  1. Added to my to get list thanks for the review

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  2. Nice one! Will be looking out for it.

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  3. I'm glad to be of assistance, guys.

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  4. im gonna order my copy now, thanks for letting us know, i cant get enough of zed novels

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  5. @ShintoKamikaze. Same with me. Nearly every novel I buy nowadays is a zombie nove;

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  6. Well, an intriguing review, and yet another book to add to my ever-growing reading list, *sigh.

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  7. Thanks, Joe. I'm sure you'll be glad I told about this novel when you do get round to reading it. Anyway, zombie books are just like zombies - you can never have too many of them!

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  8. have you ever considerd writing a short novel based on your ATZ campaign?, i thik it would make a great story.

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  9. I've got quite of list of books to read now, thank you for adding to it.

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  10. @Shintokamikaze. Hmm, that's not something I've ever thought of doing... but I'm not ruling it out entirely. You've given me something to think about. I might do a batrep as a story sometime in the future.

    @Adam. You're most welcome!

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  11. That sounds pretty cool. I actually read my first Zombie book in a while after seeing some of your reviews. It was "Don of the Living Dead", by Nick DeCoteau, available on Smashwords. Nice, fun read.

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  12. I've never heard of that one, Luckyjoe. I shall certainly check it out.

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  13. nice, i look forward to the batrep story:-)

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  14. Sounds interesting with a different slant on other novels.

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  15. @Shintokamikaze. I'll be running an ATZ scenario this coming weekend (Yay!) but my batrep will be the way I usually write them up. But the time after that, well, who knows?

    @Fran. I can highly recommend it.

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  16. This is right up my alley! Will definitely give it a look.

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  17. Hi Sub-Radar-Mike and welcome to my blog. I hope you stick around.

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  18. I watched Rhiannon start these books self published. She quickly became very popular with the indy/small press crowd. She is a great person.
    She is one of the first horror writers I made friends with and I'm so proud of her rise to big time published status at Tor books. Shes a really good and versatile writer. Pretty much tells a good story in whatever genre she does. Glad you liked her book, Bryan. Bryan or anyone if you like the book drop her a line on facebook, it'll make her day.

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  19. Thanks for that info, Roger. I always like authors (or anyone else for that matter) who appreciate their fans and can spare the time for them. Knowing that you're friends with Rhiannon makes me like her even more.

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  20. Oooopsie - posted on the wrong post. Whatever, I think your shit dont stink!

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  21. @WarRaptor. We all make mistakes. Thanks for the kind words, anyway!

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  22. Hey Bryan, Finally things are calming down at work and I've got a chance to try and catch up on all the posts I've missed.

    Thanks for the review - still not read Newsflesh book 2 yet, but when I have, and read Walking Dead vol 7 I'll be geting this - thanks!

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  23. Sounds right up my street, thanks for the review Bryan

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