Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Book Review: Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater
So as I was hanging around Thanksgiving break with a broken ankle and thinking about the upcoming ATZ demo game (see previous post) so I thought I would get in the mood by reading a zombie novel, in this case Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater. It's the second in her "As the World Dies" trilogy, the first being The First Days.
In broad terms, the book is about a community of survivors of the zombie apocalypse who are living in a fortified construction site. They decide to expand into a nearby luxury hotel in order to create more space and nicer accommodations. In the meantime, a roving band of gangers becomes more and more of a threat to them.
The book's two protagonists are Katie and Jenni. Both lost their families in the first days of the zombie attack, and both are developing new relationships in the survivor community. For Katie this means overcoming her grief of losing her wife and realizing that she is falling in love with Travis, a leader of the group. For Jenni this means dealing with the trauma of her previously abusive spouse and the death of her children. Jenni isn't the most stable of individuals, and her sanity gets more precarious as the book goes on.
I have said in other reviews that for me the mark of a good zombie story--book, movie, or other--is how it handles the people element, not the zombie gore. What this book does right is explore how a small, isolated community like this one has to cope with the challenges in a post-zombie world. Some members of the community struggle with the collapse of class distinctions. The question of how to address crime within the group is gone into detail. There is also the issue of the role of vigilantism and the post-zombie social contract. It's not dissimilar from what is going on right now in The Walking Dead with Carol being expelled from the TV series' community, and it what makes the book particularly interesting.
That's not to say the book doesn't have its grisly moments, but they are not gratuitous in nature. In terms of pathos, the book is actually pretty light in tone, which could either be a plus or a minus, depending on the tastes of the reader. There's distinctly a romantic overtone to the book as well, which wasn't a negative per se for me but might not be everyone's cup of tea.
A good read for hanging out by the pool in a leg cast.