(I wrote this review right after finishing the book, but never posted it. Thought it was about time that I did, since I'm just starting on the final installment
of the trilogy.)
First off, I loved this book.MAJOR SPOILORS AHEAD
Everyone knows that zombies are a great background against which to examine various social issues of the moment. I was slightly sceptical of the theme of blogging – was the author going to take a painfully simplistic approach or, even worse, use the fact that the characters are bloggers to excuse shoddy writing? I was, however, in for a wonderful surprise. Yes, blogging is a key part of the plot, but it’s not arbitrary, and it makes sense.
The technical descriptions of the virus, the technology that developed after the Rising, and the mechanisms of blogging are all well thought out and explained, which is one of the book's great strengths. If I’m going to believe in this world, it’s these kinds of details that do it. There are plenty of zombie stories that are just mindless action – this is not one of them. The details of the Rising, and humanities response to it, are thoughtful, well described and, most importantly, believable.
I also really liked the narrator, George. Yes she’s dry, grumpy, and a little cynical, and maybe it says a lot about me that I really identified with her. I like that she gets her job done. She’s sensible and pragmatic, but she’s also not an emotionless robot. I didn’t actually realise how attached I had got to the character, until the bombshell near the end. I also liked the supporting characters, mainly Buffy. And the relationship between Shaun and George has hints of something deeper than just sibling-like love, which I'm hoping isn't just me reading too much into things.
Knowing that this novel was the first in a trilogy, I felt safe in the knowledge that I would be following George and Shaun in their adventure at least into the second volume. How wrong I was. It’s a risky move for an author to kill off her lead character and switch narrative voices before the first novel in a trilogy is even over. I am wary of what the next book will be like with Shaun narrating, but I did enjoy his part following George’s death. I will readily admit, I cried like a baby during her death scene, right up until the final page, and even for a while after. I don’t know how it packed such an emotional punch – maybe because I was caught up in the realism, and had really got emotionally attached to the characters – but it did.
I am greatly anticipating the second novel, although I am slightly wary. What will having Shaun as a narrator be like? Will the series be the same without George? Will I ever be able to learn more about her and Shaun’s relationship? Whatever the answers, you can be sure that I will be reading it.