Odium (Dead Saga Book 1) by Claire C. Riley is a book I’ve had on my ‘to read’ radar for a while. I was intrigued by the idea that Riley polled Facebook users in order to use them in her book. As far as indie authors go, especially those who write zombies or horror fiction, she had a decent pool to choose from with over 3,000 Facebook fans at her disposal. (A feat for small scale publishing, to be sure.) Her website claims that she intends to bring a modern spin to classic horror. The site also named Romero as one of her influences, so I was optimistic to say the least.
It’s better to die by the gun than die by the dead.
Nina’s life was irrevocably changed when humanity’s dead began to rise.
Now, she lives behind the walls.
The barricaded cities, erected by the government to protect the remnants of civilization, have become a brutal dictatorship- causing the inhabitants within to starve, steal and claw for survival. Life behind the walls has become as terrifying as roaming the zombie-ridden landscape beyond.
Citizens trade what they can to gain food, water, and shelter. Nina has only one currency—her body and she is tired of submitting herself to the greedy hands of the self-proclaimed leaders.
An opportunity to escape presents itself in the fate of a young girl named Emily-Rose. For the price of a stale piece of bread, she is set for banishment from the city, and most likely a horrific death at the hands of the deaders. Nina tells herself that it is sympathy and not self-preservation that makes her follow the young girl out of the walled metropolis, and into the overgrown world beyond.
Unused to fighting the deaders, Nina tries to scrounge for her survival and against her better judgment, begins to care for Emily-Rose. However, when you have a bread-stealing liability providing your only back up, survival seems even tougher. Nina is forced to fight for their lives, and with every zombie slain, she becomes fiercer, faster – a grim reaper with her not-so-sharp butcher’s knife.
Along the path to a safe-haven that might not exist, Nina and Emily-Rose meet Mikey who introduces them to a new life they could not imagine, a life above the ground. However, this new world brings new dangers, and darker shadows than she knew.
Nina finds out that the deaders aren’t the only thing to fear beyond the wall.
And that fear will not be ignored, or Forgotten.
Scene Description: 5/5
From the very first pages the reader is completely engulfed in Riley’s world. At the time of the book, two years have passed since the zombie apocalypse – so memories of what used to be still run rampant. The main character, Nina, is in a new society. In the early pages of the book, things don’t go quite the way she would like – so she decides to leave. She departs from the safety of the city she lived in with a teenage girl named Emily. The reader is immediately provided with the same detailed description of the beautiful landscape that they were of the dismal camp the pair had previously resided in. In addition to providing thorough description of the landscape, the reader is also introduced to the violent ‘deaders’ which reside within it. The evocative details don’t stop there. Each page sends the reader further and further into a land of Riley’s design.
Riley’s narrator, Nina, is a genuinely fun character to read. The tone of her diary-like outlining of events alternates between being upbeat or amusing to more sullen and realistic. Although she makes jokes which make the story entertaining and feel lively, she is just as compelling during action sequences and fights. Her easy manner often lulls the reader into a false sense of security before events jar them back tot he severity of the situation at hand. It’s great!
The fact that the story begins with someone LEAVING a secure location which is free of zombies to set off into the wild with no weapons, food, water, or survival skills to speak of is totally novel in the zombie genre. That was a huge ‘originality’ marker for me. Add to that the female main characters (at least the ones that you start out with) with zero survival skills and very little planning and you have the makings of a 5 of 5 rating for originality. Not everyone can be a doomsday prepper with a mountain of stockpiled food, and I liked the fact that Nina was maintaining some semblance of her sense of humanity when she stood up for Emily. (I also found that I was endeared early on to Nina because of her weak stomach around the reeking undead. Surely we would all be there at some point; especially after two years of decay.)
Writing Style & Writing Flow: 5/5 & 5/5
If you have read any of my previous reviews (seriously, just pick one), you will know that I thoroughly enjoy when authors are able to execute a first person narrative well. Riley’s use of an almost conversational tone is wonderful. The natural flow of events is matched perfectly by her ability to write events as they are, and as they would be perceived by Nina.
I also appreciate the gradual way that the reader is introduced to details about Nina’s past. Up front we know very little about her or Emily. That cemented, for me, at least, that the story is less about Nina and more about the events which unfold from the point she decided to leave with Emily onward. It put an interesting spin on the book for me. This trend of details ebbing slowly out as additional characters are inevitably introduced made it seem as though this approach was deliberate. – Well done!
It always gives me great pleasure to be able to give a book a high review, and this novel by Claire C. Riley has definitely earned a place here. This book is one of the best selling books on Amazon, and for good reason! If you have been looking for a thoroughly engrossing, highly descriptive, action packed book then you may want to consider reading Odium (Dead Saga Book 1) by Claire C. Riley.