My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I LOVED the first 1/4 - 1/3 of this book. Telling a zombie story from the perspective of a sympathetic child zombie--Melanie--was pure genius, and the mix of tension and horror surrounding her captivity sucked me right in. Based on those first several chapters, I thought this was definitely going to be my new "recommend to everyone" book.
Then, the junkers (a great term for a type of character that never amounts to very much) invade the military base, the main characters escape together . . . and the story evolves into a much more typical zombie story, the only difference being that they have the sympathetic zombie child still in tow. Carey does a good job at developing the various characters' relationships with Melanie, but once the perspective shifted from what Melanie was experiencing to what the more "stock" adult characters were experiencing (each chapter is told from a different character's perspective), I frankly got bored. A few of the fight-or-flee scenes are invigorating, but the entire middle section is just a lot of "traveling toward home" (appropriately named Beacon), which even the least savvy reader can deduce is no longer there anymore. It's a zombie movie--we know they're going to be lacking supplies and fighting off the zombies at night. We know there's going to be tension between the heartless scientists who insists everything she does is "for the greater good," the psychologist/teacher who feels responsible for Melanie, and the Sergeant General who adheres at all times to his duty of keeping everyone alive. These are predictable characters, whose actions and fates are predictable and therefore make the duration of the book considerably less exciting.
The one character I couldn't figure out was Gallagher. He is the least stereotypical character in the mix--Carey takes pains to develop his childhood backstory to explain why he is in the military at all--but he never really does much of anything. I could easily see another book being dedicated to him and his experiences during this time in "history," but I don't really understand why he had to come along on this particular ride.
All in all, this book was built from an excellent premise, will no doubt be loved by many, and will almost certainly be made into an entertaining movie. Thank you, Carey, for giving us something other than a traditional zombie story . . . at least for the first third of the book.
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