The First Days (As the World Dies, Book One) by  Rhiannon Frater

 

Jenni, clad in a pink bath robe, has just watched her husband Llody eat Benji, her youngest son in a bloody feast.  As she races for the door, her eldest son sacrifices himself to save her.  

This is the brutal beginning of an undead trilogy that, for me, raised some serious concerns about the entire zombie-lit genre.

I’ll admit right up front that I don’t read much with “reanimated” characters.  Oh sure, I’m a huge fan of The Walking Dead, although I came to the party late and watched the initial seasons via On Demand.  

When it comes to my reading material, however, I’ve developed a penchant for apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic lit whilst still managing to skirt the involvement of zombies.  I tell you this because, in the end, it may be that Frater has simply followed protocols of the genre with which I am unfamiliar.

Book One of the As The World Dies series was, for me, a quick read.  Zombies invade; strangers become friends; survivors gather together to rebuild.  It was a nicely wrapped, neat little package.  The only thing missing was the bow to tie it all up.  

That, I assumed would be accomplished via the second and final installments.  Eh.  Not so much.  Some of the characters became stereotypic in nature, acting, accordingly, in a manner that ended up banal and predictable.

 

Additionally, the plot was, at times, exceedingly slow.  As this isn’t a dissertation, I will spare you those details, but I do want to share two points that are at the root of my whole “Is this a genre thing?”question.First, Frater offers us a chapter told entirely from the perspective of….wait for it…Jack the German Shepherd.  

The reader is subjected to Jack’s seemingly insatiable appetite and quest for Oreos, as well as his ongoing trepidation at having to ride in an elevator.  I barely made it through the chapter.  Now if this is a genre point, writing from the perspective of domesticated animals, I must take issue with whomever is writing the rule book.  

If, however,this was a choice by Frater to move “outside the box”, I will just say “no”.  Just.  No.The second point of contention for me is perhaps one of degrees of believability.  Bear with me here.  So I buy into the whole “the dead walk again” thing.  

 

I’m even persuaded to suspend my disbelief as such to include zombies becoming flesh-eating predators.  Where I draw the line, however, is then crossing over into the realm of the supernatural, complete with mediums and talking ghosts who prognosticate with stunning accuracy.

Now THAT I’m just not buying.  

Yes, yes, I know–once you accept the whole dead/not dead premise, the rest should be a piece of cake.  Unfortunately, I choked trying to swallow it.

 Again, a genre rule?  Does it say somewhere in the “How to Write a Zombie Novel” handbook that ghosts are par for the course?  

If so, for the love of God, would someone please do a rewrite?!

All in all, Book One is worth the read–with one caveat.  Don’t expect that bow on the package.  

Just revel in the open ending.  The remaining books in this trilogy will leave you wanted to hang yourself by the ribbon that is offered.

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