After the End
by Bonnie Dee
"Zombies are on the loose and the world is falling apart. In the tradition of apocalyptic novels such as Stephen King’s THE STAND, a group of strangers on a Manhattan subway are brought together in the name of survival. The group follows the lead of Ari Brenner, a young man who doesn't recognize his own leadership qualities and believes they follow him simply because he wears an army uniform. Lila Teske, a college student studying philosophy, finds her non-violent beliefs tested in the crucible of a zombie attack. There are other members of the diverse group, but the focus of the story is on Ari and Lila, two young people who learn about sacrifice and inner strength through the ordeal.
With the city’s infrastructure down and communication with the outside world curtailed the survivors head toward the nearest marina. When they meet a lab tech who may have a solution to the virus, they know his safety is paramount and it’s more important than ever that they get off the island. But zombies aren't the only danger that impedes them on their perilous journey."
The synopsis really does say it all. This story spotlights Ari and Lila's budding relationship as they fight for their lives when the world as they know it ends. Other characters, while secondary, are still well developed and well written. The end of civilization is immediate and chaos reigns as this band of survivors face hard decisions and a bunch of near misses with the walking dead as they fight their way to the marina.
I'm impressed with Bonnie Dee's critical thinking skills. It's about time someone realizes that a shot to the head doesn't guarantee zombie death. If we take into consideration that the skull is one of the thickest bones in the human anatomy, and it's curved, chances of getting anything except a big ass bullet through it is pretty unlikely. Most melee weapons would get deflected or slide off the bone. In After the End, neutralization requires severing the brain stem and she paints an artful picture of just how hard it is to get to that sweet spot.
Now to the good stuff, zombies! These aren't your Romero-esque slow zombies that couldn't pick their noses if you shoved their finger up it. These bad boys can open doors and grab things. However, there were a few inconsistencies for me. While most of the book depicted the 2.0 zombie we would see in the Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake, other times they were closer to meat sacks with legs. In one scene a zombie can't figure out how to navigate around an office chair, but another scene has a group of them opening car doors to hunt for prey.
As our weary cast of misfits navigate the desolate streets to get to their destination, they meet up with several groups. One of particular note had me talking to myself and asking if panic can really turn people into such morons without the barest ability to reason. Seriously though, how is it that 20 people couldn't get through two exits of a department store before attacking dead heads broke in through the front window and climbed to the second floor to find the tasty treat of human flesh? All I could envision was some kind of reverse clown car. Instead of an unbelievable amount of people stepping out of a car door, it was a bottleneck of bodies not being able to walk through a door and climb down the fire escape stairs. Maybe it was a group of Biggest Loser contestants on day 1, who am I to judge.
The story ends rather abruptly, and I'm left to question what happened to our survivors. Did they make it? Were they rescued? Perhaps there will be a second book in which all my unanswered questions will be answered. One can only hope. All in all, I enjoyed the read and look forward to seeing what is next to come from Bonnie Dee.
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