For Cade Grayson, husband, father, and former Delta Force operator, that one warm sunny Saturday in July - later to be labeled Z-Day by some anonymous person probably long dead - began like all the others before, and none since.
Whether the virus was naturally occurring or an escaped lab experiment Cade hadn't a clue, and he wasn't especially concerned until he learned of its unprecedented virulence, unusual method of transference, and the fact that, according to the talking heads on the news, it brought the newly dead back to life, semi-mindless, and with an insatiable desire to feed on the flesh of the living.
Armed with this new information and now seeing the bigger cities such as Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles rocked by the rapidly spreading scourge, Cade ignores the volley of contradictory edicts drawn up by the White House and set into motion by FEMA and DHS, dusts off his tools of war, and loads his truck with supplies. Unable to get ahold of Brook and Raven and unwilling to leave them at the mercy of some distant politician's inability to hold the nation together, he begins an impossible 3,000 mile journey across a reeling United States with presumably millions of infected in his path and only one acceptable outcome: find Brook and Raven alive-or die trying.
Cade isn't paying much attention to outbreak reports in the media until his neighbours Ted and Lisa are trying to eat him. He arranges to meet his family at a military base and starts on his journey, meeting up with other survivors fleeing the area, while his family get out on their own dangerous road trip. But the dead are going to be the least of their problems.
This goes with the typical type of zombie story that I enjoy reading. We have the motivated and capable characters, trying to get back to their loved ones on seperate dangerous road trips, with the threat of zombies and psycho people who take advantage of the lawless situation. It has the mixture of action and tension as we switch between Cade and his wife Brook and what is happening to them. I also liked that we were following Mike, Cade's old friend at the military base as he is sent on a mission to investigate the situation at The White House. There is certainly plenty going on through the book which kept me pretty happy.
We meet quite a few characters on the journey. Cade finds two orphaned kids Leo and Ike, and along with neighbour Rawley decide to get on the road as a group. I liked this early part of the story as Rawley was a really good character and I was curious to see how the kids were going to develop. They link up with the grumpy Harry who doesn't offer much to the group effort yet moans to himself that nobody values him or his opinions and that kind of gets on my nerves. There is also the addition of the twins Shelly and Sheila, and former military man Duncan. They decide on safety in numbers and travel together at least for part of the journey.
I very much enjoyed Brook's adventures. She is suffering the pain of her father turning and attacking her mother, and is now taking her brother Carl and her daughter Raven to meet up with her husband but the journey is difficult. They deal with the behaviour of panicking motorists, zombie hordes and violent looters as they try to get to safety. I liked when we went back to their story as I thought it was well written, tense and quite nerve-wracking. Mike taking his teams into The White House to look for survivors was really tense and I liked that unexpected sub plot. Mike was a really good character and I want to see more of him.
Cade's journey is a bit more frustrating. I was annoyed at how many of his companions we lost on the road trip as I liked the group and wanted to see them survive more than a few chapters! I at least wanted the majority to make it to the next book so I did feel a bit annoyed, especially with their lives being thrown away by stupid mistakes. Cade decides to teach Ike and Leo to shoot in an area he hasn't checked for zombies and has not set a proper guard to keep everyone safe. Later he lets civilians go into a public restroom that he and Duncan have not checked for zombies. And of course knowing that the raiders set up an ambush ahead of them, instead of taking an alternative route away from it, lets drive into it and die! Great choices by a so called military man!
The copy I had was full of editing mistakes, which is a bit annoying. The names of the twins are continually being mixed up in the second half of the book, which is annoying when one is alive and one is dead. I feel as if the author changed his mind about which twin to kill at some point and didn't correct all the mentions of the names. These are the kind of things I don't want to see in something I paid good money for.
I liked the book overall but there were a few niggles concerning the Cade side of the story. I think I'll look at the next book before I make a final decision about whether to stick with the series right through.
Read December 2016.