You may remember a while back that I reviewed The Infected: Jim’s First Day by Joseph ‘Zombie’ Zuko. The sequel to this book, The Infected: Karen’s First Day is available TODAY 6/13/15 through Amazon. Mr. Zuko was generous enough to send me a copy of the book prior to its release so I could share the details with all of you!
Raising kids is tough. Keeping them alive as the zombie apocalypse begins is tougher. But that’s exactly what stay-at-home mom Karen needs to do: fight fiercely to keep her young daughters safe as her husband Jim battles his way across the city, so they can escape the carnage together. On the worst day of her life, Karen finds that she will do anything to protect her family, and that the line between life and death has teeth.
Originality & Entertainment: 5/5 & 5/5
Unless I’ve been reading books in the wrong circles, I’m fairly certain that I could count the number of zombie apocalypse novels with a focal character who is a stay at home mom on one hand. (Speaking of, if you know of any anymore – send them my way!) There is a big focus on the kids, family, and the importance of being a good parent even in insane circumstances in this book. If you have young children of your own or have spent time around young children, Karen’s day prior to the infection will be familiar. The kids are as much a part of the story as the adults with their constant inquiries, inconveniently timed needs, and perpetual commentary. However, despite the focus on family and presence of young children, there is no shortage of bloodshed, carnage or cursing in this books. (This is the zombie apocalypse, after-all.) Fans of Zuko’s first novel won’t have to worry that they’ll be losing the colorful narrative energy that the fledgling author utilized in his first work, but I’m happy to say that this book succeeded at stemming off even from a highly enjoyable and successful first installment.
This book was different from Jim’s First Day in that the story-telling style was different. Zuko did put a disclaimer in the front of the book, but I don’t think that the deviation is a bad thing. Rather than only seeing the apocalypse from Karen’s eyes, readers also got to experience the terror from the perspective of their neighbors (…and the couple’s less than typical mother/mother-in-law) and from the view of Karen’s mother, Penny. The shuffling between narrators helped to keep the story from focusing too much on any one set of survivors, and getting to know each of the characters was an enjoyable adventure. (Although readers should beware: heartbreak is ahead. This is a zombie apocalypse story, after all.)
Scene Description & Writing Flow: 4/5 & 5/5
Zuko’s ability to capture the frustration of just how many responsibilities fall on the shoulders of stay at stay at home mothers is comparable with his remarkable ability to capture the anxiety, fear, and adrenaline of the zombie apocalypse which we saw in his first novel and which was repeated in the second. I could imagine passing this book to my zombie loving stay at home mom friends and getting nods of approval and understanding when she reads about a toddler refusing to wear pants, or when a family pet get an entirely new name because the youngest can’t pronounce the real one. It’s evident Zuko and his wife (the basis for Karen) adore their children. I will note that the docked point was because there were a few scenes which featured moments which weren’t entirely clear or needed to be re-read to ensure that something hadn’t been missed but was in fact missing, but overall everything from the setting of the story to the actions taking place in a particular scene was exceptional. The transition between one character to the next, and from one set of characters to the next, wasn’t jarring at all which says a lot for the author’s abilities. Zuko’s chapter divisions were also obviously placed with great care. Each chapter is designed to leave the reader wanting more, but without feeling like an entirely cliffhanger ending that might result in skipping through the next character’s sections to find out what is in store for your favorite character or set of characters. (That is one good thing about having multiple groups of characters in a zombie apocalypse scenario; you get to play favorites.)
I hope many of you buy this book. It’s a short, fun read that is difficult to put down once you start it. As long as harsh language, gore, and violence don’t trouble you, you’ll find this series to be an enjoyable ride. The pre-order price is $2.99, the same as The Infected: Jim’s First Day but it’s free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers (at least to begin with). As of yet, this series hasn’t been released on any other platforms so far as I am aware, but you can always download the Kindle Reading App on your devices or read books on the cloud if you’re eager to get your hands on this series. These books are some of the strongest I’ve seen come from a new author, and there is surely another on its way, so take this opportunity to get caught up on the series while it’s still early.