As They Rise by J.M. Wilde is not the typical YA zombie book, but that is because J. M. Wilde is not the average independent author. As They Rise is a novella which was originally released on Wattpad. The novella has undergone vast revisions in order to produce a publishable work, as have the other two complete novels which complete the series. While available for free the series became a Wattpad featured story, was featured on The Huffington Post, and gained over 3 million combined reads. The author, J.M. Wilde was kind enough to send me a copy of the novella to review with you in honor of the impending book release. Needless to say, I was very curious. I’m always excited to read a series when I know there are already several installments completed, plus finding one outside of the U.S. is always an adventure, so it was an added bonus to find a series with such high praise out of the gate. Here’s what I found…
A kick-ass teenage girl, a nation swarming with zombies, and a sweet romance that grows amongst the ruins. You’ll find all that and more in this exciting and action-packed, post-apocalyptic young adult novella.
Readers have said it’s had them on the edge of their seats, reading all through the night and still craving more.
Eva was just an everyday girl, working as a waitress, hanging out with her friends, and falling in love. But her world changed overnight when a powerful virus spread throughout the country, transforming it into a wasteland of deadly disease and crazed zombies. With Australia cut off from the rest of the world and rampant with terror and chaos, Eva and her friends must do whatever they can to survive.
Set in Australia, horror, friendship and true love collide to make this tale of survival stand out from the rest.
The Eva Series will make you smile, scream, cry and fist-pump the air as you go on a wild and dangerous ride with Eva and her friends. And it all starts here, as they rise.
Writing Style & Writing Flow: 5/5 & 5/5
Young Adult authors lose their audience when they talk down to their readers or go out of their way to make their characters seem remarkably immature in spite of their situations. J.M. Wilde does not make this mistake. The narrative voice she utilizes for Eva, the main character and decided heroine of the series, is flawless. Although her narrative style is less conversational than some other books I’ve read (see the Broken World Series or Flesh Without Soul), the character is completely believable and realistic. It was refreshing to read a level-headed teenage character who, despite losing her parents, was remarkably well adjusted. The character was perfectly written for the setting and the level of detail provided was sufficient.
The flow of the work was excellent. The chapter division was well formed, and the reader wasn’t forced to jump back and forth in time in this book. (Note: Jumping back and then progressing naturally isn’t the same as jumping back and forth. It isn’t as disorienting for the reader, and it makes for a better experience.) The scenes all flowed naturally with the progression of time, and the length of the novella was aimed toward preparing her audience for a longer series.
So far in this series, the band of survivors has yet to pick up any stragglers and the potential romantic interest of our main character, Eva, is someone that she’s starting out with. She doesn’t randomly meet a guy and fall for him in five minutes a la Disney. She also doesn’t spend the entirety of the novella mulling over whether or not she intends to “date” (or whatever one would call it, given the zombie apocalypse) her intended beau. This is a refreshing change. How often are we going to see characters united by a common threat who decide to leap into the others arms after knowing one another a few minutes? Too often. Now, I can’t speak for the rest of the series as I have only read the first title, but I’m thrilled to see healthy relationship potential for a young, strong, independent female character who kicks ass and stabs heads.
I’m also going to give the As They Rise bonus points for taking place in Australia without giving any hint of what’s happening in the rest of the world. It gives an air of mystery and an added level of despair and isolation.
Although I mention the romantic elements, the focus of the story was by and large on action and setting the scene for events to come. Sure, Eva’s thoughts were frequently occupied with thoughts of awkward social interaction, butterflies in her stomach, and introspective frustration at her own actions but that is to be expected with a YA novel with an adolescent narrator. As several of the Goodread reviewers said (you can see their full comments on the Amazon listing) the book was a joy to read and I couldn’t put it down.
Character Description: 4/5
The only area where Wilde fell short was in the character description area. I’m giving more than half marks because personalities of characters were clearly defined and actions were also outlined incredibly well. Unfortunately she lost points because she didn’t give a clear description of what her characters looked like. HOWEVER, I will say that the zombies were described with impeccable detail both in terms of actions, appearances, sounds, and smells – so that nearly makes up for her not giving details about what Eva’s friends look like. …In her defense, though, since the characters all know one another very well it would have been slightly out of place for her to suddenly begin narrating their appearances. From a stylistic/realism perspective, I understand Wilde’s decision. While there were ways to make her descriptions of the characters more effective, I can appreciate her reasoning for avoiding the subject entirely.
This novella means that this series is off to an excellent start! If you or someone you know is looking for a new YA set of books to read I would highly recommend that they sink their teeth into As They Rise. You can pre-order the book now, it is due for release on June 21, 2015. For a limited time you can also pre-order the second and third book in the series, While We Fall and Before it Fades, for $0.99. They will also be released on June 21! (Personally, I love it when I don’t have to wait for additional books to be released.) Their prices will be going up shortly after the pre-sale is over, so be sure to snag all three early for the discounted rate.