Author: Mari Mancusi
Publisher: NLA Digital
Date: March 8, 2012
Genre: YA- Fantasy/Dystopian
Four years after a devastating disease has wiped out the vast majority of mankind, Peyton Anderson emerges from her family’s fallout shelter to find a world that bears little resemblance to the one she left behind. Broken and slowly being reclaimed by nature, it’s a hostile, unwelcoming place that holds dangers out of a nightmare. For some, the plague was a slow and painful, but ultimately, clean death. For others, it was a horrible mutilation of their body and minds, leaving them little more than flesh eating zombies.
Peyton surfaced with one goal in mind- get to her father and the team of scientist that would hopefully have the means and technology to start rebuilding the world. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the walking dead number far more than she could have ever expected. In fact, Peyton soon learns that this new world is full of the unexpected, when the first person she encounters, minutes outside her shelter door, is the love she closed it on, four years ago.
There were a lot of good things happening in this story. First, it’s gruesome, which is the way the end of the world should be, if you think about it. It’s nice to think that a zombie plague would kill off most of mankind and we’d still get up and have an egg McMuffin the next day but that’s reaching. Mancusi, writes it, shows it to you, puts it RIGHT IN YOUR FACE and makes sure you get it. It isn’t pretty. She’s also fiercely unapologetic in her treatment of her characters. Peyton and her crew have to travel hundreds of miles over devastated, disease ravaged, zombie laden land and there is no easy mode. I’m a big fan of this.
Another win is the fact that this is a stand alone book. The ability to tell a story well and wrap it up completely in one novel is an art that seems to be missing in much of today’s YA. On top of that, the chapters constantly alternate between pre and post apocalypse, essentially giving us two stories in one. I was equally engrossed in Peyton’s past just as much as I was caught up in all the suspense of her present.
And I’m sorry, maybe it’s redneck in me, but I got the biggest kick out of the fact that her friends were surviving the after effects of a zombie apocalypse by living in a Walmart. Say what you will but that little tidbit is made up of all kinds of win. Though personally, I’d opt for a Super Target. Hell, I’d live in a Super Target now.
But for all it’s good, I wasn’t completely sold. Truth be told, I didn’t like any of the characters and I could only just tolerate Peyton. I was rather disappointed that even with all of her “enhancements” and her professed abilities, she never really blew me away with her skills and I had a hard time believing that this was the person who was going to save the world. Plus, the dialogue grew tedious in some places, especially where the children were concerned and the romance- I could take it or leave it. I wasn’t moved much either way.
All in all, I was impressed with Mancusi’s storytelling and if you’ve yet to reach the level of all-you-can-stand with dystopia, give it a go. There are zombies in a Walmart in it, people. What more do you need?