As The World Dies: The First Days
(part one in a zombie trilogy)
I’m an apocalypse junkie. I adore the genre. It doesn’t matter what the cause is—nuclear war and winter, plague, engineered viruses, whatever (okay, I do draw the line at Left Behind) –I enjoy how everyone survives or not in a damaged or empty world. But it’s not exactly easy to find apocalyptic fiction that stars female protagonists. You know. As the main characters.
‘s self-published entry into the zombie sub-sub genre sounded good to me. It features not one, but TWO female protagonists that are a team, devoted to each other. That’s great, because with only one very new pro book out, virtually all of the zombie books I’ve seen in the stores or on Amazon are perponderously male-centric. They might have a woman or women involved in the storyline, but either they are a joke, or sidekicks, or play a conventional role.
Frater’s protagonists escape a lightening fast zombie plague by the skin of their teeth..or the skin of the zombie’s teeth. Kaite is married to another woman who turned into a zombie before her eyes. Jenni is a battered housewife and mother who sees her abusive husband and innocent children turned into zombies. She’s rescued by Katie. From that point you get to know these two women more clearly, and how the shock and insanity of a zombie filled world affects them and the other survivors they come across as they flee across Texas, rescuing Jenni’s oldest step-son from certain death, and gleaning supplies from towns simmering with fast moving zombies.
Most of the old rules of civilization are gone, and the two women learn quickly how to use them to their advantage. If they don’t defend themselves, and rely on each other, there aren’t many others who will, or will be able to, because you never know who will be killed or zombified next. There are men, of course, and Jenni and Katie become involved to different degrees.
They also become part of the leadership in the group, but on their own merits–not on who they’re screwing or who has an interest in them. In fact, of all the people you meet, it’s Katie who is the most likely to shoot first, and ask questions later. The male leader of the group is a pacifist. Many of the original elected male officials are ineffectual. It’s Katie who points out who the real leader is, and sparks a change for the better for the general survival of everyone.
They are central to the story, and it rarely veers from their points of view. (except where there’s odd head-hopping going on)
Frater’s book originated as an incremental on-line story. The chapters are therefore short, to point, and the writing itself is relatively raw and needs better editing. BUT, having said that, she’s got the touch, and the ability to make you care about the characters she writes about. They feel pretty real, even as they reference The Zombie Handbook and discuss classic George Romero movies, comparing the “fictional” zombies to the ones they’re experiencing. As The World Dies is the first book in a trilogy, so the ending is unfinished. It does take Jenni and Katie to a place of relative safety, a breather, before it all hits the fan again. I’m looking forward to the next installments as they come out.
Visit the writer’s blog here, and check out the excerpt you can read here [since removed ] and meet two women you wouldn’t mind meeting on the street– as long you weren’t a zombie!
Note: corrected the characters’ names–my goof! Thought I’d proofread better than that! Apologies to Ms. Frater. (That’s what I get for staying up until 5:30 in the morning so I could finish As The World Dies! Haven’t done that in a long time)