Logan Thomas Snyder
June 30, 2016
A Review by Chris Fried
Squire is a seventeen-year-old who lost his family during the chaos of the zombie apocalypse. Taken in by the Thunder Kings, a small motorcycle gang with a code of honor, he joins their brotherhood and they become his new family. This motley but close-knit group of people grouped together to stay alive, trade with other nearby villages and do their best to survive. Squire earns his keep and a motorcycle and collectively, they ride. But one day, Squire finds a girl running from him and it all begins to change.
This girl, Hera, is from a frightening group of zealots who believe it is their sacred duty to eliminate all other humans they find. But she’s able to escape from them, and from her dark past in the process, to find sanctuary with the Thunder Kings, educating them on this emerging threat. Going to investigate, will they be able to survive this cult and its dangerous, intolerant presence?
From here on in, the threat rises precariously, the Thunder Kings are put in danger and everyone’s lives are on the line! Squire and Hera, escaping an explosive melee, find that their lives are in danger and will irrevocably change forever. The story takes some tragic and heartbreaking turns from here, immersing you deep into the lives of Hera and Squire as they find there is no safe haven for them. We watch as they endure one struggle after another until they are forced to do detestable things just to survive.
By the time you reach the end, both the characters and the reader are put through the emotional wringer, facing insurmountable odds, unlikely surprises, atrocious violence, death at every turn and gruesome discoveries along the way. When it concludes, it feels exhausting having experienced all of these trials and tribulations but only because the story being told is such an exceptional one.
The plot twists and turns in unexpected and exciting directions, making for unpredictable and involving reading. There were several times where my jaw just dropped as I read it, as I didn’t see something coming. It makes for a gripping and intriguing storytelling, thinking you might know where the story is headed and then it swerves into another delightful direction completely. There are also a couple of moments of utter disbelief in particular where I became very sad at the events depicted and how they played out afterward.
Along with the captivating plot, there are Squire and Hera. These two characters form a close bond from which to view the entire novel. Their love feels very nuanced and real, filled with heroism, sacrifice and an unshakable bond that serves them well over the course of the story. These two people and their gentle banter make them come alive on the page, make you fully invest in their outcomes and ultimately, you feel hurt when they hurt. And there is a lot of gut-wrenching hurt and bloodshed during the tumultuous events here. They become your friends and it definitely hurts to see your friends suffering.
Their relationship and their dialogue are one of the best parts of this novel, as the author excels at these qualities, creating relatable characters that just feel so lively and refreshing to read more about. Their intertwined fates are what compel you to read onwards, not wanting to stop at all.
The supporting cast is well fleshed out as well. The Thunder Kings, like Bronson and the twins Stitch and Twitch, are all unique, different and very likable, making you root for them all to survive the apocalypse they face. And then there is Invictus Salvalla and Sebastian, two members of this cult that are truly terrifying and manipulative adversaries. Their devotion and hypocrisy of using their faith to further their own goals are crafty and ultimately sickening. These despicable characters hammer home very well how it’s not the zombies you should be afraid of; it’s the humans trying to survive the apocalypse who are willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive. Including kill you.
The writing is like ice cream on a hot summer day: it feels good and goes down smooth, hitting that sweet spot in the most satisfying of ways. Between the plot and the always interesting, deep characters, I zipped through this novel very quickly because I just had to know what happens next.
This is a terrific novel with entrancing writing and a horrific storyline of how civilization falls as one person tries to survive it with the help of the other. This was a true pleasure to read from beginning to end and one of the author’s best stories to date.
This novel takes place in the universe of Ann Christy’s “Between Life and Death” zombie series. It stands alone as a separate work but it can be enjoyed on its own without having read the previous books and you won’t feel like you’re missing anything. However, Ann’s series is really great so I would encourage you to check those stories out as well.
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