Title: The First Days
Author: Rhiannon Frater
Series: As the World Dies, #1
Genres: Horror, Post-Apocalyptic
Publisher: Tor (Imprint of Macmillan)
Date Published: July 5th, 2011
Katie is driving to work one beautiful day when a dead man jumps into her car and tries to eat her. That same morning, Jenni opens a bedroom door to find her husband devouring their toddler son.
Fate puts Jenni and Katie—total strangers—together in a pickup, fleeing the suddenly zombie-filled streets of the Texas city in which they live. Before the sun has set, they have become more than just friends and allies—they are bonded as tightly as any two people who have been to war together.
During their cross-Texas odyssey to find and rescue Jenni’s oldest son, Jenni discovers the joy of watching a zombie’s head explode when she shoots its brains out. Katie learns that she’s a terrific tactician—and a pretty good shot.
A chance encounter puts them on the road to an isolated, fortified town, besieged by zombies, where fewer than one hundred people cling to the shreds of civilization.
It looks like the end of the world. But Katie and Jenni and many others will do whatever they have to to stay alive. Run, fight, pick each other up when they stumble, fall in love…anything is possible at the end of the world.
This is about the fourth book I’ve read about zombies so I’m no expert on the subject. It’s also not my favorite book genre, which is weird because I love zombie TV shows and movies. I think the reason for that is that zombies just don’t have the same kind of effect for me on the page as they do on the screen. Sure, I have a decent imagination and can imagine the gore and nastiness. But it’s just one of those things that I’ve always found more effective on screen.
Despite that though, The First Days definitely had a few ick-factor moments that probably would never make it to the screen (and I probably wouldn’t want to) simply because they’re just too horrible to even comprehend watching willingly. To give you a hint these scenes generally involve children and even baby zombies. Blech. But, I suppose if a zombie apocalypse did happen it’s realistic that there would be children and baby zombies too.
Anyways, moving on. I found The First Days to be really good at moments, but overall kind of mediocre. While there were intense fast-paced moments that had my eyes glued to the page, the majority of it was kind of just setting up the new world order and in some cases these moments were slow-going.
But really it wasn’t these moments that made me dub this book mediocre. It has to do more with the characters, relationships, and the writing style. The combination of the three I felt were lacking.
In particular the characters adjust to the “new world” lightening fast. Literally the first day that everything goes down phrases like “this is how the world is now” and “I’m an old pro at this zombie killing thing” were thrown around. I get it, these chicks are bad-to-the-ass and hard-to-the-core. But really? I highly doubt that these two women (and others in the world) would hardly have an adjustment period. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments they mourn for their loved ones. But the internal adjustment to the kill or be killed kind of lifestyle was a little too fast and easy in my opinion.
Speaking of fast, that kind of sums up the other problems I had with the book. For one, they move from place to place and task to task really fast. Within two days they had already stayed in one place, met new friends, and were off on another mission, went to another place, and then are back again. I think they might have taken a few breathers here and there between gigs.
In addition to adjusting and moving quickly, the bonds these characters form were a little too unbreakable from the start. Katie and Jenni feel like sisters after literally a day of knowing each other. I think I would’ve liked for there to be more time between them meeting and being besties even if it was off the page. It just felt too artificial. In real life, I think these two strangers would’ve had doubts about each other at first, even if only internally. But they are all-trusting of one another like they’ve been friends for life when by the end of this book they’ve only known each other for maybe a couple weeks. The same goes with other characters they met, in particular Travis, who I liked but felt like everyone grew attached to a little bit fast.
Despite the whiplash bonds formed and supersonic adjustment the characters undertook, the book was overall pretty entertaining. I liked that a few of them were zombie movie fans so they were kind of the “experts” in the new world. That was kind of fun. I also liked the action, which for the most part was fast paced. My favorite character was definitely Travis. Katie was okay but Jenni was mostly just annoying to me — Loca is definitely a good nickname for her.
I’m kind of torn on whether I want to continue with this series or not. It was good entertainment and now that the unrealistic bonds have formed I think I could enjoy the stories if I look past that. But I’ll probably hold off for awhile and if I’m in the mood for a zombie book again maybe I’ll pick up the next one. I don’t think I’ll be sweating it if I never do though to be honest.
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