I am such a sucker for zombie stories... The summary of this one makes it seem as though there is something really special and unique about this particular story. There isn't. The type of zombie and how the outbreak started is slightly different, and the zombies are atypical (they talk and have all sorts of varying levels of mobility) but it isn't really much different from any other zombie story since there are many, many permutations and combinations of what illness caused the outbreak and the nature of a zombie. It isn't very original or special in that way.
Aside from that, it is just your typical zombie survival story with survivors struggling to find a safe place and their various musings and feelings about the what has happened/what will happen, etc. It wasn't the worst but was really very similar to so very many stories in that regard and didn't really distinguish itself in any way. I think it tried hard to be a very character driven story, and there was a lot of background on a several characters. But the focus was unclear, and too many characters explored and their relationships seemed slightly unfulfilling for that reason. Also, though there was a lot of background, somehow their personalities didn't seem very well established for some reason... in their interactions and actions their wasn't a lot that was compelling or that seemed to establish them as unique individuals, so it felt unbalanced with all the background. In the end I didn't feel particularly attached to any of them, though didn't dislike any of them either.
Aside from survival, the story as a whole seemed to lack any sort of focus and kind of meandered and dragged in some spots- a large portion is just teenagers in a bus looking for a safe place and the various familiar feeling and run ins they have with various other survivors and zombies. It seemed very similar to many other such stories and as a plot was not particularly compelling or special or well developed. It seems very much like it is set up for a sequel as there is kind of a non-ending. I will pass on the sequal as this wasn't that special for me and I am not interested in several hours more of the kids trying to get somewhere safe and developing crushes on each other, etc. That's not to say it was a terrible book... It was a solid OK for me and I managed to get through the whole thing. If you have not read a lot of zombie books, and particularly if you are a teen, this might appeal to you more than it did to me.
The narrator is exceptional, which helped a lot. I have enjoyed a lot of her other work and I think she does an excellent job capturing a large variety of characters, making it feel like a performance - not a reading, and is particularly good at the voice/feeling/character of young people. So that really helped the book an awful lot.
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