Zombie Games (Origins) by Kristen Middleton

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zombiegames origins

Aside: In honor of Women in Horror Month I will be reviewing a book or comic written by female authors or which prominently featuring female characters for each Monday in the month of February. There are plenty! This spotlight for female writers/characters in books and comics will be in addition to each of the Women in Horror Spotlights we are doing here at ZADF each day in February. (…and of course, this is also in addition to the sheer awesome Capt. McNeely and I contribute to the horror genre on a daily and weekly basis both on ZADF and beyond! ; ) ) At the bottom of each book review I will have links to the books discussed in previous weeks so that you can see who else has been featured!

Description:

Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Wild thought that living in the chaos of her mother’s home daycare and dealing with new feelings for Bryce, her martial arts instructor, was a struggle until her world turned upside down. When an untested vaccine kills more than just a rampant flu virus, Cassie learns how to survive in a world where the dead walk and the living… run!

This YA story is a lighthearted adventure filled with zombies, butt-kicking teenaged girls, a man obsessed with video games, an annoying but totally HOT karate instructor, and humor when needed.

Zombie Apocalypse? Bring it!

Zombie Games (Origins) is one of several books I’ve read in recent months that has decided to explore the zombie apocalypse from the perspective of a teenager. Although this book was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it based on the criteria below, it should be noted that this book is planted pretty firmly within the “YA” genre, and I think it would be a mistake to interpret it as anything more advanced than that. Many of the other books I have reviewed recently were about teens, but could easily be read and enjoyed by either teenagers, young adults, young at heart adults, and those who fall between those categories. This book on the other hand, had less character development and had a few weaknesses which make me believe it would be a better match for younger readers. Ultimately, though, the decision is yours! Besides, since it’s a free download from Amazon, you can’t really go wrong if you want to check it out. Onto the review!

Originality & Entertainment: 4/5 & 3/5

First of all I LOVED the way the zombie plague came as the result of an untested vaccine which was given as the result of a strain of resilient flu rather than simply being the result of some super bug created by nature or government agency. Although some sort of weaponized virus gone horribly wrong is my favorite zombie apocalypse origin story, I do realize that the concept is tired and wearing heavily on some horror readers, even those of us who aren’t sick of reading about zombies, yet. That being said, for those of us with any working knowledge of how medical trials are run this creates some obvious logical fallacies, but as I mentioned above, for younger readers or those who are more apt to expect less from their zombie fiction – the originality factor is likely enough to carry this new approach.

Middleton only lost points on entertainment value and originality for this story because of the lack of character development and somewhat hollow nature of many of the people in the story. Most characters aren’t given more than a few traits, which automatically makes them less interesting. The less interesting they are the less invested I am in whether or not they survive, and it’s a vicious cycle from that point on. I can only read so many books about teenage girls with one real interest outside of an ambiguous implied focus on not being like everyone else. (In case you were curious, Cassandra’s interest of choice is karate.)

If you’re looking for a load of action, this isn’t the book for you. I would suggest you check out Champage Jackson instead and call it a day.

Character Description & Scene Description – 5/5 & 5/5

Physical descriptions of characters and scenes are two things that Middleton does particularly well in this story. I find that if I can’t like characters on their own merit then I would at least like to know about them in terms of appearance at least. Although there aren’t many things revealed about several of the characters which are mentioned, the reader is presented with how they look and can draw at least a few conclusions about each person as they appear based on their dialogue and interactions with other characters. There are several instances when it is unclear at first if the events being described are actually happening or if they are part of some sort of dream or dream sequence because the description is equally vivid in each situation.

Writing Style 4/5

The book has an incredibly conversational feel throughout because dialogue does carry quite a bit of the plot and subject matter. When you read a book that is heavily based on dialogue, there is always a risk that the book will pick up some of the grammatical errors which come more easily to the spoken word. This book was not exempt to that and probably would have benefited from a few more beta readers/revisions prior to being released. That being said, I do think that the writing style was true to the protagonist. When a book has a main character who is a 17 year old girl in the present day, I do give slightly more allowances for awkward tense usage or the use of slang when it might not otherwise be appropriate because using incorrect grammar is actually more authentic than having entirely pristine prose.

Overall: 4/5

This book is, as many have been recently, the start of a series. If you think of this book as the start of a greater story that is being told or a means of setting up a story, then you won’t be disappointed. However, the book doesn’t stand too well on its own as a complete novel with beginning, middle, and end. It is, however, a fun zombie novella (at least) from author Kristen Middleton, and certainly a bargain as a free download!

Other Women In Horror Month Book Reviews:

Champagne Jackson Kicks Zombie Ass ~ Darlings of Decay: A Zombie Anthology ~ Zombie Games (Origin) ~ Benton: A Zombie Novel

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