The Survivors Book One: Summer by V.L. Dreyer

The Survivors Book One: Summer
by V.L. Dreyer
464 Pages
Self Published, November 20, 2013
Genre: Horror, Zombies, Apocalyptic, Sci-Fi

Reviewed by Jacqueline Druga

The virus came from deep in Africa. By the time they had a name for the disease it had wiped out half the continent. Within a year, it had decimated our world. Our species is on the verge of extinction. Only a few of us have survived; those of us lucky enough to be born with a natural immunity to the plague. We scavenge amongst the ruins of our old civilizations, picking out a living from the devastation.

Ten years ago, I watched my family die one by one. Now, I am alone. The year is 2024; it has been a decade since the virus reduced humanity to a scattering of survivors strewn out across the world. The rules that governed our society are gone. Without laws to protect the innocent, I have seen the worst of humanity throughout the years. Now, I have found a new family who are determined to show me the best. But a fresh mutation of the virus has started turning the harmless, pathetic infected into monstrous predatory creatures bent on our destruction; even the wildlife is turning against us.

We are forced to leave our home and flee for our lives. It is only through unity that we stand any chance of survival. Enemies wait around every turn. For the sake of our children and our children’s children, we must find some way to survive and flourish again. If we fail, then the human species will cease to exist. My name is Sandy McDermott, and I am a survivor. This is my story.

Sandy rocks. Let’s establish that. A young woman who spent her transition years of teenager to adulthood in the midst of a undead apocalypse. It’s a touch of I am Legend meets Castaway. Yes, I said Castaway, because Sandy is resourceful. She doesn’t rely on schooling or brains, she relies on instinct and that is what got her to survive for ten years.

She is a loner and we know through her attitude and narrative that she has learned the hard way not to trust. She’s been used and abused and pretty much said, “heck with it, I’m taking this world alone.’ Which she has done quite well. She carries empathy for the undead, even using names to remind, perhaps herself , that they were human at one time.

When we meet her, Sandy has her survival needs down pat and a routine. Even to the point of being anal retentive about cleanliness. Ms. Dreyer does an excellent job of characterization. We get to know her, vision her, care and often cringe for her. I loved the flashbacks of how it all went down. I really liked when the flashbacks started, because Sandy was so darned normal.  She’s not a military genius nor does the author feel the need to impress us with weaponry knowledge. The story stays true to what the character knows and has learned. Kudos. A good job by Ms. Dreyer. The story is strong and it focuses on the human side instead of the events. That makes a good, strong story in my opinion. I quite enjoyed it.

So why did I give it three and a half stars?

Ms. Dreyer has a gift of gab, and while she can pen well what she writes, sometimes she will over write. I don’t mean deeply describing a scene. I mean there were times where it took a bit of time to reach a point, writing about every little thing the character witnessed. Some things were not important. A good example was the cleaning of the apartment. Although, I believe that’s a matter of taste. Some readers enjoy that much information; personally it was a tough for me. Where she could have written more, she didn’t. Like the flashbacks.

My other reason – She dated herself.  I don’t mean, Ms. Dreyer dined alone and went to see a movie. Her novel is full of current references of today. Yes, the book takes place in ten years, but she is specific about ten years from now, right now. Even giving the date of this year (2013), that alone takes away from the fear aspect. December, 2013 is here and almost gone. Just like no one really cares about the movie, 2012 anymore (If they ever did) or likes being scared of anything with 2012. It lost its appeal.  I know her book was aimed to move, more than scare, but I want that realistic fear instilled into me, that can only happen if I am looking at a ‘what if’ situation with no dates. Stephen King has once said the worst mistake he made was putting a date of 1984 in The Stand. Something he has since gone back and changed. While Survivors is ten years in the future, I strongly believe this novel can be read long past ten years from now and into another generation who may not know what Zombieland is.

That being said, I personally enjoyed the novel and even more so as it went on. There are a couple of things that transpire that are awesome, but I can’t divulge them because it would just ruin it for you. Her foreshowing is so nicely done, you don’t see it coming.  I will say this, Sandy meets up with a group of survivors that completely changes her outlook. The character of Michael is brilliant.

Ms. Dreyer does an awesome job of crafting an original story. And it really is a solid, original story. She adds a twist with the zombies that I personally loved. This is a book I would recommend and look forward to the sequel. 

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About the Reviewer:

Jacqueline Druga is a native of Pittsburgh, PA and a fulltime author. She has written and published numerous novels in various genres, along with two full length feature films currently available on DVD. More than anything, she prides herself on being a kickbutt grandmother. 

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