Sunday, August 3, 2014

What Zombies Fear: Fracture review

    It is to the credit of authors Kirk Allmond and Laura Bretz they've managed to do what very few authors have done: make a continuing zombie series which remains interesting after the initial outbreak. Zombies are a great source of drama but rarely are the tales something which goes beyond the discovery, initial encounter, and survival at a location. It takes imagination to move beyond these concepts.

    And these two have imagination.

    The premise of What Zombies Fear is Victor Tookes is the father of young son, Max, and possessed of an immunity to zombie bites. Furthermore, his immunity comes with mild-superpowers. Gathering a group of similar individuals empowered by their bites, they attempt to rid the world of zombies. Opposing them is Laura, who is the head of the "intelligent" zombies which psychically control the billions of undead swarming the planet.

    Fracture is where everything goes to hell.

    Critics of What Zombies Fear have indicated they found Victor Tookes a little too perfect, his leadership too unquestioned, and things going too swimmingly for our protagonists. I found these elements to be charming and was willing to overlook how well things were going for Victor in the name of watching the zombies get there's. Really, aside from the Resident Evil movies, the zombies never lose these things.

    The breakup between Leo and Victor Tookes is painfully realistic. Brought about by Victor refusing to give her more than the superficial relationship they had, I was affected. I'd wanted these two to be able to work it out but, unlike other series where such would only be a roadblock to romance, I was left with the impression this was going to stick. The fact the other members of the group were starting to turn against Victor felt sudden but, remembering the previous volume, it had been been in the works for some time.

    The drama is big in this book with some genuinely moving moments, unexpected deaths, and surprising twists. The character of Kris, who I was quite fond of in the previous volume, reveals herself to be bisexual and becomes involved with another female character.

I liked this twist as it provides much-needed diversity in a genre which used to be one of the most diverse in fiction but has kind of become more white heterosexual male-dominated over the years. The fact it's not a major deal to any of the characters is another point in the authors' favor.

    Sadly, I can't give this book a solid 10 out of 10 for a couple of reasons. The first is one of the book's main subplots deal with a military base having degenerated into misogynist slavers. I didn't much care for the plotline in 28 Days Later and it feels exploitative here, a way of making the human enemies irredeemable from the start. This is a personal pet peeve of mine and I was hoping to never see this sort of subplot again. I've seen much-much worse, believe me.

    In conclusion, Fracture is a very different book from the previous ones. It's far darker and the next book (which I've already read) gets darker still. For some, this will be a welcome change but it left me feeling uncomfortable in places. I can't hold strong dramatic weight against it but almost feel like it would have been better to stay a series about Victor killing zombies forever.


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