Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Time of Death: Induction review

    "A cheerful look at apocalypse by zombie."
    -The United Federation of Charles.

    That's what I'd put at the top of the book cover if I was trying to summarize this book. It's not that the plot is particularly pleasant, it's got one of the larger on-screen body counts I can remember from a zombie novel. No, it's the irrepressible attitude of its protagonist.

    She's just so damned... perky.

    I like it!

    Emma Rossi is a nurse trainee at the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse created by the release of underground gases. Already, I give the author props for explaining how the zombie apocalypse happens. Too many zombie apocalypses have been happening with no explanation whatsoever. While this might work in The Walking Dead, even they take the time to explain it's viral eventually. Underground gasses may not be the most scientific of explanations but it was an explanation and one which worked for me.

    The character of Emma is unlike any other protagonist I've read about in zombie fiction. Her ability to maintain good cheer and humor despite the end of the world is amazing. I'm reminded somewhat of Harry Dresden, Wizard P.I. who confronts all manner of horrible things with a quip. Emma Rossi isn't a wizard, though, but a normal person with a husband and dog.

    After so many post-apocalypse novels with protagonists fighting off soul-crushing depression, Emma is a stand-out. About the only other character I can think of with a similar attitude is the literary, not the television, Sookie Stackhouse and even she had a mean-streak Emma doesn't.
    I admit I may be biased to liking Emma because she's a dog-lover and the character of Daphne the Wonder Yorkie would have won me over even if our heroine didn't. Knowing pet owners, I'm well-aware attempts to separate them from their dogs or cats would go extremely poorly--even in the zombie apocalypse.

    The problems of taking care of a small animal and their owners' attachment to them even when their barking might attract the living dead are plot points I enjoyed reading about. Daphne should have her own series. A children's book about a little dog surviving Z-Day with her owners.


Daphne the Wonder Yorkie commands you to buy this book!
    Rounding out the characters of Emma and Daphne (who is the real star, dammit!) is Emma's husband Jake. The cheerfulness of Emma wouldn't be nearly so enjoyable if not for Jake acting like every other survivor in a "normal" zombie apocalypse.

    Scared and panicked.

    We see him start off normal only to degenerate into the ruthless paranoid survivor. Watching Emma try to pull him back from this is something I don't recall seeing very often in this sort of fiction and I approve of Shana Festa going places other authors don't.

    There's other supporting cast members but the author doesn't hesitate to kill them without warning or hesitation. Characters you think are going to evolve into main cast members die suddenly while others you think are one-offs develop into full-fledged characters.

    The author has a keen grasp of the "literary action scene" where they stick in your head, such a woman trapped in a too-small window she's trying to get out of with zombies behind her and our heroes trying to rescue her. These sorts of scenes are simple but effective.

    Shana Festa also has a talent for using musical cues, which is not something you expect to see in these sorts of books. One scene had a character sing Brittney Spears' "Oops, I did it again" to distract a horde of zombies. Even characters in-universe are stunned by that.

    It's moments like this which separate the Time of Death series from others in its genre. I even like the character's extensive nursing experience, which is put to use in terrifying and sometimes just gross ways.

    Which brings me to the book's flaws.

    Despite being Shana Festa's freshman effort, there's only one real flaw with this books and it's the same one I had with World War-Z. The novel more or less takes it as a given once the undead start rolling out, the world is going to end. Given the United States military is not portrayed as a bunch of complete boobs and the zombies only spread by bite, I'm not sure how the outbreak is supposed to have destroyed the entire world in the span of a few weeks.

    Our heroine reacting to the military bombing her hometown (the start of the outbreak), the President going offline, and so on would have done the book wonders for believability. Instead, our heroes go to stay with the military for a bit then the entire East Coast seems to be depopulated.

    It's quite a jump.

    This wasn't a deal-breaker for me but I hope we'll see a bit more explanation in future installments of how the government collapsed so quickly as well as what caused the outbreak to become global. I'm also interested in how Emma reacts to the changes in her husband and what other relationships she might develop. While not the best zombie novel I've ever read, I think Time of Death: Induction is up there and bound to be considered a literary gem in the future.

    It's just so fun.


Buy at Amazon.com


  1. Thank you for the excellent review, Charles!! I love that you appreciated Daphne, and I laughed out loud when I saw your photo of the Yorkie LOL!

    1. I had a lot of fun reading the book, Shana, and hope to continue to review the series in the future!