The penultimate book to the What Zombies Fear series. Declaration of War is a book which is markedly different from the rest of series' entries. Whereas the previous book, Fracture, destroyed the nakama (a Japanese term for a really close non-family group of friends) of Victor Tookes--this one stomps on the ashes before scattering them.
The premise of What Zombies Fear is that Victor Tookes, the titular protagonist, is a human being immune to the bites of zombies. Furthermore, he and a small number of other heroes have gained superpowers from it. Dedicating himself to destroying every zombie on planet Earth, Victor Tookes has had a small amount of success in this. He even managed to disable the E'clei Queen Laura, ultimately leading to her death.
Unfortunately, Victor has become a victim of his own success as the routing of the zombies has convinced the other members of his posse it's time to retire. Victor doesn't help his case by not really having a plan other than "kill zombies" as well as a selfish-sounding goal of doing it for his son (versus everyone else's child). By the time the book is through it's first five chapters, it's clear no one wants anything to do with Victor.
The premise of this was believable but disappointing. I'd been big fans of the supporting cast until this point and watching them become so selfish and stupid in the face of a genocidal race of man-eaters who only appear to be defeated was annoying. It's a bit like watching a car wreck, you can't turn away even though you know it's going to lead to disaster. The supporting cast trade immediate comfort for long-term survival.
Despite this depressing premise, there is much to recommend the novel and a lot of set up for what will undoubtedly be a grand conclusion in the final novel. Declaration of War has more character development than any other volume in the series.
While a lot of this development is melancholy, much of it gives fascinating insights into the cast. We get a sense of why Victor does what he does, how he thinks, and what his major flaws are--particularly in how he fails as a leader due to his self-centeredness.
There's a significant time-skip in this book and I have to say I think it's some of the most touching stuff in the entirety of the series. We get to see the characters experience what sort of lives they hoped to have after the zombies were dealt with, even if it's an illusion. The fact there's a positive lesbian romance (and even marriage) is also something I approve of, being the giant liberal that I am.
In conclusion, I find Declaration of War to be the darkest entry of the franchise yet but not without some appeal. I think any fans of the series will want to purchase this book and it's an essential part of the build-up to the climax. Still, I wish the authors hadn't been quite so brutal to their characters.
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