I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is another case of ‘I finished reading a while ago but I didn’t have time to write a review’. But this was a very short story and I remember it fairly well.
I’m neither for nor against the zombie apocalypse genre. I think a zombie story can be done very well, but I don’t get the current zombie craze. This was like a snippet of a zombie story.
The main protagonist is a small child named Tommy. He’s about five, and traveling with his mother, who is only called “Mother” (fair enough, it probably would be the only name a child that young would know her by) and a man named Bill. They’re being chased by zombies, or ‘sweet ones’, so they’re driving away hoping to find someplace safe. They eventually come upon a house that they decide to try and barricade.
Some soldiers also happen to come to the same house later, and as a small group they try to defend it when the zombies get there. That’s essentially the entirety of the story, leaving out the details of exactly what happens.
Before the soldiers arrive, Bill has been injured. Naturally, when the soldiers do show up they assume that his injury is from a zombie. They manage to argue for Bill to stay. “Mother” scratches her leg every now and then and I already knew what was going to happen. That isn’t to say there wasn’t any tension – this story paints some pretty frightening zombies. Not because they’re super fast or anything, but because they’re smart. They know to do things like reach inside of a door and turn the knob, or climb up and break in the second floor of a home.
That made me wonder how they had even survived this long. These zombies tracked them for miles and miles, got to the exact house they stopped at, and then proceeded to attempt various methods of getting in. If they knew the zombies could do this I’m not sure why they would bother stopping at anything other than a fortress. Mother and Bill had argued about whether to continue or not, and it seems like the only wise thing to do would be to check for supplies and continue. Your average home isn’t going to be that secure when it comes to intruders that have no reason to fear to police or anyone else from stopping them.
Zombies make it into the kitchen because someone forgot to lock the door and one of the soldiers is killed. They barricade off that part of the house as best the can, then they hear something upstairs, and a soldier goes to clean up the upstairs rooms. All the while Bill is barely able to move because of his injury but tries to help and Mother keeps scratching her leg.
Tommy is left wondering if they’re going to be able to keep ‘the bad people’ out. It is a tense situation (which, again, left me wondering how they survived this long if zombies are this resourceful, but I guess I can assume some people must have gotten lucky). The writing is fine and I was wondering if they were going to make it.
The biggest question for me was the ending. Not that I don’t get what it was going for. Tommy is scared, and Mother hugs him to comfort him. Then she turns and bites him. The soldiers have to kill her and, because he’s bitten, they kill Tommy, too. Bill’s injury was the red herring, and while they were busy arguing whether it was okay to keep him around it turned out Mother was the one bitten the whole time. I wasn’t surprised by that, I saw it coming the second she scratched her leg.
I didn’t get her motivation. Did she not know she was bitten somehow? It seems like it would be hard to miss. If she knew and hid it, why? She knew she was going to be near Tommy and that she’d end up killing him that way. Was it part of the disease that she felt the urge to hide it until she could eat them? Her actions seem to be protective of him before she turns, so I’m not sure if that’s it.
With how short the story is we don’t get to know the characters very well or understand their motivations. I’m not even sure why Bill is traveling with them. I’m guessing they met up at some point, but maybe they knew each other before the zombie break out.
It’s not bad. If all you’re looking for is to read a short, desperate struggle, you would probably enjoy it. It’s not long enough to get indepth with the characters it introduces. It doesn’t stand out in any particular way to me, but I wasn’t bored. I think it could be pretty good with some editing, and perhaps extending it. For me it needed more to it. With the short length of the novel most of the characters were little more than names and I was left wanting more explanation.
I give it a 6/10.