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!
This will be the last special “Women In Horror” month female author feature. Thanks everyone who submitted book recommendations! The good news is that even without a special month dedicated to featuring female authors and characters, I can still read and review those books and comics! I will be working my way down the list ASAP. Again, many thanks to those who tweeted or emailed me suggestions. Your input means a lot to me.
The First Zombie Book of Jennifer Benton’s Adventures
Zombies have killed everyone in the Benton household–all except twenty-something Jennifer. She’s escaped her bedroom, but what now? Waterbank, Illinois is overrun. Where can she go?
A chance encounter with seven other young survivors points her toward Texas. A charismatic, handsome young man named Mark says he can lead them all to his family’s ranch. He’s sure they’ll be safe there. Jennifer wants to trust him, with her life and possibly her heart.
There’s no place else to go, there’s no way to escape the zombies but through, and there’s no telling if Jennifer and Mark will live long enough to act on the emotion building between them.
Originality & Entertainment: 3/5 & 5/5
The general premise of this book wasn’t an incredibly unique concept. A twenty-something survives the zombie apocalypse, finds other survivors and they decide to road trip it to a destination in the country. It’s a song and dance that we’ve seen before, but this book still got points for originality because of its execution. The way Pre describes the events of the novel is wholly her own. Although when you read zombie fiction you’re likely to find first person narratives, this one reminds me of Ryan Casey’s Dead Days series because of the way the main character, Jennifer, narrates. The book flows like a combination of a diary and a television episode, and that sets it apart from other novels I’ve read on similar subjects.
The book was incredibly interesting, as a result of the characters Pre created, and because of the storytelling style. Although the overall story was one that we’ve all heard before, she kept it feeling fresh by creating characters that I wanted to succeed. Going into a post zombie apocalypse book, you expect that people will die. Those characters who must perish are a sacrifice to the genre, but that doesn’t mean that the reader should go into the book hoping everyone dies because they are so intolerable. (Allow me to reiterate, there are few things worse than going into a zombie novel hoping everyone dies.)
Writing Style, Scene Description & Writing Flow: 4/5, 5/5 & 5/5
Pre’s method of description is enjoyable and effective. I don’t know how to describe it beyond that – it just worked well. Since she’s writing from the perspective of a pragmatic twenty-something, Pre’s vocabulary isn’t inundated with overly complicated language or unnecessary description which is provided exclusively for the purpose of boosting the author’s word count but which offers nothing to the reader’s experience. Honestly, if you can read the first chapter without being intrigued, I would have difficulty believing you’re a zombie book fan. Just sampling the introductory chapter I knew that Pre would be a powerful storyteller. The reader follows Jennifer in a more or less play-by-play fashion, so they get to experience each zombie attack and strained interactions with other survivors in real time, which always helps in dystopian fiction.
There was an outpouring of hateful reviews about this book on Amazon for reasons I don’t entirely understand. The author was gracious enough to reply to a tweet I posed when reading the book.
@fox_emm Thanks! All authors who sell get negative reviews. But I’m focused on the people who like my work. Thanks so much!!!
— Jolie du Pre (@Joliedupre) February 24, 2015
I think this is an excellent approach on her part, but I would encourage any potential readers to ignore the hate and press onward. Benton Volume One is a strong start to what I am sure is a phenomenal series. I look forward to reading more of Jolie du Pre’s work!
Other Women In Horror Month Book Reviews: