It's all fun and games until someone ends up undead.
Layla Petrovich has spent her whole life running away from her hometown of Hamletville. Raised by the town's medium, and dubbed the "weird" girl for her fascination with swords, the last thing Layla wants is to go home. But when she receives a desperate call to return just as a mysterious outbreak sweeps the country, Layla's instincts urge her to go. Good thing, because the dead are rising.
Layla, however, isn't entirely on her own. With her psychic powers growing, surely everything will turn out okay, right? Not so fast. Just when Layla believes she might survive the apocalypse, a sinister and ancient force rises from the shadows to finish mankind for good.
Because the truth is, we were never alone in this world.
My Review: (updated)
Layla's grandmother calls her back to her hometown, where she has been making preparations for a zombie apocalypse that hasn't happened yet. Layla knows all about ancient weapons and her grandmother's gifts, so agrees to go and help, even if it means having to see Ian, who cheated on her and married his pregnant mistress. Then the zombies come one morning and town is in chaos as everyone tries to survive with Layla leading the fightback. But the zombie outbreak is just the beginning of this town's problems...
I had seen mixed reviews of this online so I wasn't sure what to expect but I was pleased to enjoy it. I liked the zombie parts-there was plenty of action, tension and death to enjoy which kept me quite happy. It was interesting to be in a small town and to watch how they cope with the outbreak and then plan to protect themselves from the outside world. Layla and some of the others living there are pretty capable and you think that the town has a chance of surviving, despite a few setbacks. You always need to have a few disasters or near misses to keep the tension up and have you worrying about the characters you like. I mean, who doesn't love a good old zombie attack! I liked that they made mistakes and let their guard down at the wrong times which gives a sense of realism to the story. People are going to be lulled into thinking things are safe, they will be plagued by doubts and they will do dumb ass things at the wrong time. We are human after all and most people have not planned for how to live in a zombie apocalypse!
The book then takes the most unexpected twist when the people make contact with the outside world and the offer of a safe haven on an island appears. Do they trust these strangers and escape the fear of more zombie attacks and the town being overrun or running out of supplies? Or should they stick it out and stay together in their fortified town? The direction that the story takes here is a HUGE plot twist which should never have worked but I loved it! Erk, it's so hard to say anything without giving a spoiler! And I want to talk about it because it is so cool a twist! The action switches to a new challenge for our survivors, which is full of danger, intrigue and trauma. The characters are well developed so that you actually give a damn about them and there are a lot that I liked. There are lots of good action scenes and a ton of nerve shredding tension to enjoy. It was also refreshing to see an MC not reliant on guns, who was skilled in using blades and swords, and characters using a bow as well.
Layla is a good character, trying to deal with the humiliation of seeing Ian every day, while forming a friendship with his brother Jamie. Now I'm the first one to scream about how much I hate love triangles but this is not my pet peeve of 'every hot guy in the country loves the new girl at school sort of thing'. Layla and Jamie already knew each other and had a connection which gets stronger as the outbreak begins, so thankfully they had the basis for a relationship. Jamie never liked seeing how Ian treated Layla and had a crush on her, something that can be common-an attraction to your brother's girl. Layla and Ian have a shared romantic history and differing views on current morality, ie him being a slimeball, but it was logical that she would be a bit conflicted facing him after all these years. Ian was quite happy to pick things up as if he never broke her heart with no thought that she has moved on in her life. It didn't bother me the way that it all unfolded, which makes a change. It also quickly developed both Ian and Jamie as characters.
There were lots of interesting characters amongst the people in the town. I liked Buddie as he was capable, rational thinking and viwed everything with suspicion. I could see a bit of a prepper in him and he was vital to the group survival. Layla's grandmother has known what was coming and tried to prepare carefully to give Layla a good chance of securing the town. We also have Frenchie and her two young daughters who Layla swears to protect at all costs.
I wish I could say more about the second half of the book but I'm determined not to put any major plot spoilers in this review. So if you like the sound of zombies and other nasties with death, disaster and romance, you'll just need to read it for yourself!
Read February 2015.