Sunday, May 24, 2015

Zombie Attack!: Army of the Dead review

    The Zombie Attack! novels are a series of Young Adult novels by Devan Sagliani about the adventures of Xander Macnamarra. a seventeen-year-old martial arts student with a katana, and ex-child star Felicity. The two of them and their companions travel across the ruins of the United States, trying to avoid outlaws and the ever-hungry hordes of the undead scavenging across it.

    The premise of this book picks up immediately after Curse of the Living. After the capture of Xander MacNamarra, Felicity, and Sonya by an old enemy--they discover there is a secret cabal working to overthrow the government of the United States remnant plus an alliance with the local bandits. Joining forces with Xander's brother, Moto, they try and thwart this plan before the last bastion of civilization in the world is destroyed for good.

    I very much enjoyed Army of the Dead. It's a story which manages to wrap up Xander and Felicity's story for a second time. I would very much like to see their continuing adventures after this book but can understand why, after the announcement at the end of the book, why this would be difficult.

    The coup de'tat plotline is one which I could take or leave. While an excellent concept, calling into question how much Xander and his brother should have trusted the United States armed forces (especially when they don't answer to any civilian government), I wasn't really sold on them. We never got a really good confrontation moment between their leader and Xander, so he remained mostly a caricature with a supervillain-esque plot.

    Despite this, I liked the book had a running theme. The survivors of the zombie apocalypse have all managed to cordon themselves off into little self-sufficient kingdoms. All of them want to reform the United States but the villains have the idea this can only be done through conquest. In truth, it probably only can be because not too many people have much respect lingering for the US of A (which failed to stop the zombies). It's just that creating the USA by conquest is exactly the opposite of the way it should exist (history aside).

    Doubly so, if it involves unleashing zombies on your neighbors.

    I liked the expanded role of Sonya and Moto in the book, who form an excellent couple of badasses. I would happily read a book about them, even if they're kind of old for the role of Young Adult heroes. I would love to watch them as actual novel protagonists, though, since they're a post-apocalyptic samurai and bounty hunter.

    My inner twelve-year-old loves that.

    The villains in the book are delightfully scummy. While I'm a big fan of moral ambiguity in zombie apocalypse stories, sometimes it's great to just enjoy good guys fighting bad. I love the fates which befall all of our bad guys this time around and they are suitably imaginative. I'm not a big fan of "super zombies", at least outside of Resident Evil but their appearance in this book worked well.

    I also liked we got some insight into the reasons for the zombie apocalypse. The author could have easily made the creator of the virus a complete monster but he chose to go a more interesting route. I kind of regret we didn't get a chance to see how someone does live with the guilt of destroying the world but, I suppose, "you don't" is a good enough answer as any.

    One thing I do object to is the decision to move Felicity and Xander's relationship forward even more than it already had been. The pair had been running into problems because they got married to soon in the second book, only now for the next step in a relationship to occur when they resolved that. I would have appreciated if the author had taken the time to let their marriage settle before rushing into things but, hey, these things happen.

    In conclusion, I found Zombie Attack!: Army of the Dead to be a great end to the Zombie Attack! trilogy and Xander MacNamarra's adventures in particular. It had some flaws but it was pretty enjoyable all the way through.


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