Billions died and rose again, hungry for human flesh. When the nightmare reached Sheriff Danielle Adelman's small mountain community of Forest Peak, California, it was too late for warnings...forcing her to lead a small group of survivors out of hell, all the while seeking her estranged runaway sister at any cost.
Two years later, the undead have evolved. Now, besides the shambling, mindless cannibals are the hunters-cunning and fast, like wolves-and the thinkers, whose shocking intelligence and single-minded predatory obsession may mean the downfall of what's left of humanity. As Danny leads a ragtag band of the living through the remnants of the American Midwest, rumors arise of a safe place somewhere east. But the closer they get to it, the more certain Danny becomes that something evil waits for them at the end of the line.
With an unspeakable secret riding beside her and an unbreakable promise made to a small, silent boy, Danny must stake everything she has-her leadership, her sanity, and her life- in order to defeat the ultimate horror in a terrifying and dying world.
©2013 Ben Tripp (P)2014 Tantor
"More than a routine zombiefest, this taut and intelligent tale succeeds as a moving meditation on a world steeped in 'the loneliness of life without afterlife.'" (Publishers Weekly)
Avid Zombie fan who's starting to listen to more and more Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories. So, my description is apt to change. Dog lover who's known to have cats. LOL C# coder, part-time prepper, B movie fan, AMC watcher, recovering but successful day trader, perpetual student, overjoyed uncle, former adrenaline junkie with a flare for cooking, and lots more. LOL
constantly being surprised at how the story unfolded
there were several moments that moved me, moments of sadness and disgust. there are a few powerful moments, but i can't go into deal b/c i don't want to spoil the listener's experience!
wow! i'm shocked at how good this second book was! the first book was just MEH. so why did i download this second book? b/c there was some potential to make the story interesting, but also b/c first book ended with an irresistibly intriguing scene.
the first book had some ups and some downs. in the first book, i didn't really like the main character, danny, and it was hard to bond with her. she has some serious anger issues and is so hard-headed that she often alienates those around her. she is an unlikable hero.
however in the second book, the author does a good job making danny seem more human. yes, she still has some serious anger problems, but the author does a better job flushing them out. in the first book, the author used danny's anger to drive the plot, some of which seemed downright dumb (threatening looters with arrest during a zombie apocylapse) and contrived (leaving the group to look for her sister). in this book, the causes and reasons for danny's anger are realistic and at times, justified, and therefore more believable. i found it refreshing to listen to a zombie story where there was a lot of anger.
in a couple of other zombie stories, where characters have had serious anger issues, those characters did really stupid things, things that really uncharacteristic of their characters and thus wouldn't happen during a zombie outbreak, like shouting and breaking things while supposedly hunkering down in a safe house. i'm thinking of my review of the first 2 the becoming novels in particular.
anyway...back to this review. yes, danny blows her top and makes mistakes. these scenes are realistic and emotional. i found myself thinking "God danny, why did you do that!?" even though danny is brash and unlikable, you start to like her and care for her. this really surprised me after the first book. i really liked how the author explored the complicated relationship b/ween danny and her sister, kelly.
what happens in this second book is also much more interesting than the first book. the first book details the initial outbreak, followed by fleeing and trying to find a safe place to hold out. the main human enemies were a rogue band of private military thugs. been there done that. the pace of the story in the first book is herky jerky. the author does a much better job of pacing the story in this second book. one layer of plot smoothly lays upon another as the mystery and tension build.
i won't spoil anything more revealing than the publisher's summary, but what danny finds in the "safe" place is as intriguing as it is creepy. a few zombie novels i have liked have tried to do something along this line, e.g. beyond the barriers, the reanimation of edward shuett, i zombie, but ben tripp creates something truly unique and horrifying. the author really could of lost control of the story in this part, but he did a good job pulling in the reins, keeping the pace of the story moving without getting lost on a tangent.
what i really liked was how unpredictable the story was. every time i thought this or that was going to happen, i was proven wrong, all the way up to the closing credits.
now, the important question. drum roll...do you need to read the first book? i would say no. this story is pretty self-contained. you can catch up with what's going on in the beginning as the author briefly recounts what happened. but like i said, parts of the first book are painfully slow, especially the beginning- 2 and 1/2 hours before anything really happens.
overall, a great story! there are a lot of twists and turns and some freaky surprises! i definitely recommend this book. the first is your call!
to those who listened to the first book and didn't like it, i definitely suggest you give this book a chance b/c it's so much better. i think a good comparison would be the roads less traveled series. while the first book in that series was kind of MEH, the second book was great. this second book is really good!
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
Well... I gave 5 stars to book one, and started to give only 4 stars to this one. Then I re-thought my assessment and have to say that this book is nearly as good as book one (caveats follow, and key word is "nearly").
Of course, if you have read book one, you pretty much have to read this one too because, otherwise, you will never know what happened to Danny. (If you did not read book one, don't read this one first, it won't make nearly as much sense.) If you liked book one for its realistic characters and zombie action, you should probably find this one stands on equal ground; it is as good in that sense as the first book was.
So, why is this book not quite as good? Only because there was a bit too much mid-story filler about Danny on a bender which didn't add anything to the story line, and the zombies just brushed on the edge of being too extreme. Yes, I know, they are zombies... but... we expect zombies to fit within certain parameters, and the survivors' responses to them to also fit within these parameters; in this book, however, it just "got a little weird". (hah... got a little weird... in a zombie book... hmmm...)
But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the shift in the zombie - we'll call them "attributes" - was sort of a logical progression, given how they started. Though I don't think I can accept the late-story acceptance/attitude of "zombies are people too". (I sort of wonder if this theme was meant to have some moral behind it... but since I ignore morals in stories, I'm not sure if that was the intent, or just my interpretation of certain events.)
Anyway, the story is wrapped up in the end - though maybe not the way we would have preferred it to be. The narration is very good. There is a bit of swearing, a bit of zombie "messiness" (aka gore), and no detailed sex. If there was another book in the series, I'd buy it.
This book is not for everyone. There are scenes that are INCREDIBLY gory. But, OMG (a bizarre reference considering one of the book's many original twists), to fans of this genre this book (and the first one in the series) surely delivers. Just when you think you have figured it out, another bizarre (BIZARRE) twist. Hope there's a third. I would download it in a second.
Zombies Books in order: 1. We're Alive 2. Day By Day Armageddon 3. Roads Less Traveled Series 4. Alaskan Undead Apocalypse 5. World War Z 6. The Walking Dead 7. Rise Again 8. As the World Dies 9. Zombie Fallout
The wrinkle on this zombie tale are the smart zombies, the thinkers.
Generally, it starts off as a convoy of humanity called the "tribe", led by Dani the sheriff. Pretty good zombie telling. Eventually they get to the "safe zone" where the "thinkers" are at the top of the food chain and the plot intricacies start to get complicated.
I thought the plot was kinda flimsy really and started to wonder where could this possibly lead. How far could Dani keep playing one political faction off against the other? I think the author was wondering the same and its almost as if his publisher was nagging at him and he felt he had better wrap things up because suddenly "Ka Boom! Never mind trying to tie the plot together, back to basics with a zombie onslaught, fire and mayhem.
Dani is slightly more likeable now because we have more insight into her battle with her rage and alcoholism.
Would have really liked to keep going with this series but this looks like the end of things. That's too bad. Still, we got two really long good solid zombie stories!
knitter, weaver, spinner
I found both parts of this story to be excellent. The characters were consistent, believable and interesting. The story was suspenseful. The reader was outstandingly talented and well suited to the book.
The protagonist was a war veteran. Her response to the "zombie apocalypse" seemed to be in line with what I have read about the hardships of soldiers who return home. I found her emotional responses to be very believable, but have no "reality check".
More... a good supernatural book lends itself to metaphor and in this case, the zombie infection worked as drug addiction, cultural ennui, and the creepy American yearning to live forever.
I am very impressed by this author, and hope that he continues to produce.
Enjoyed the first book - Rise Again. Well written, and the end encounter was beautifully conceived. The second is pretty far-fetched, but again well written, well thought out and has plenty of great characters - sometimes too many to stay close to. And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for our protagonists, BELOW ZERO delivers one of the best 'death-by-zombie' scenes I've heard. Would be willing to follow whoever survives on for a third. But for once, the author has brought this story to an end.
I would call this an average story the characters are strange, the main one not real likable but it does do a new take on the zombie apocalypse. I always enjoy the author who can come up with something new. It's worth a read and was entertaining which is what I asked for.
There were a few times when I felt like quitting the book but I kept going and in the end I gave it a reluctant 4 out of 5. I had a couple of problems with it but felt it deserved more than a 3. The hero of the story very seldom got the outcome that she wanted (or the revenge against her enemies that I wanted), which is closer to real life of course, but not what I'm looking for in a zombie book. And there was one very graphic torture scene in the story that kind of freaked me out. The narration however was great and the story did go far beyond what you get with your normal zombie that walks around in a sort of trance - different manifestations of the disease emerged as the virus that caused it mutated.
I like intelligent well written science fiction with flawed or developed characters, Frank Herbert, Frederick Pohl, and Alaistar Reynolds.
Maybe if they used different characters.
Writing overall is not bad and plot meanders or drawn out unnecessarily.
Nothing really stood out.
Not to buy any sequel.
I like a strong herion, but this character is over the top stubborn that I wish a zombie would bite her head off. Her in your face bravado would never have gotten her very far in a post apocalyptic society. Her mouthiness would have gotten her killed by her tribe. Just not likeable.
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