(As the World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy #1)
Release: July 5, 2011
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni's stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.
They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form.
Fast-paced and exciting, filled with characters who grab your heart, The First Days: As the World Dies is the beginning of a frightening trilogy.
“Katie let the curtain fall back into place. Standing before the window, she felt herself let go of the old world and embrace the new. She would survive this. She would go on. That was all there was to it. She wouldn't give up without a fight. She would do whatever it took to survive.”
Well. So, that was awesome. Hold on a moment while I catch my breath from all the zombie killing.
Frater's zombie trilogy starts off with a bang (and a crunch and a slice) with The First Days. This book really did take my breath away. For fans of zombie movies or that wonderful TV show The Walking Dead, the zombie encounters, and the subsequent killing of said zombies, will be satisfying and exciting. The terror and sense of urgency throughout the story is equally matched by the gore of slaying those creepy flesh eaters. Squeamish readers might find themselves looking away from the page occasionally, but really, if you can separate yourself from reality for a bit, its not all that bad.
Frater's pacing throughout the book is incredible, each time the story slowed down for a bit I thought, "Okay, here it is. They're safe for a little while and now it's going to get boring". Um, no. The pace never slowed to a halt or left me feeling bored. The story would slow for a nanosecond, and then off we would go!
Aside from the wonderful pacing and delicious zombie killing gore, what really shines here are the characters. I do not avidly read horror, so I was unsure about this series for a while. But what sets Frater apart from others in the genre is two significant things. First of all, her lead characters are women. Strong, stubborn, crazy women. Second of all, her story is really character driven. All of the main characters are well-written and fully developed. Reading from the various characters' points of view also helps to round them out as well.
The two main characters here are Katie and Jenni, thrown together by the luck that Katie just happened to be driving by Jenni's house just as Jenni was running from her now zombie husband. This is how the story begins. Jenni's entire family, including her youngest child, has been either killed or turned into a zombie, and this horrifying beginning really grabs the reader.
So small. So very, very small. The fingers pressed under the front door of her home were so very small. She could not stop staring at those baby fingers straining frantically to reach her as she stood shivering on the porch.
Jenni's reaction to the entire thing is actually not that uncommon of victims of a trauma. She has detached herself slightly from reality and has focused solely on killing the zombies. She is a formerly battered housewife who married young and now has been given the freedom she always wanted, but at a terrible price. She is very damaged and vulnerable, and slightly crazy, for most of the book, but reading her innermost thoughts when the POV switches to hers shows the reader that her pain over losing her family and her confusion about how she should live her life now fuels much of her strange behavior. I really adored Jenni and felt a lot of emotions along with her character throughout the story. I also loved Jenni's back and forth with Juan, a wonderfully strong but hilarious character whom Katie and Jenni meet. Jenni and Juan cracked me up and their relationship provided some lighter moments in the story.
“The crux of the argument was that Jenni was a bloodthirsty psycho and would waste all of the ammo while Juan was too stupid to understand guns were made to be fired.”
The other main character is Katie, whom Jenni looks to as her savior. The two women instantly bond and become almost like sisters after traveling together and killing zombies together for a while. Katie has just lost her wife to the zombies and spends a lot of her private moments mourning her loss and the fact that she was unable to kill her and end her suffering as a zombie. Katie also spends a lot of time trying to stay strong for Jenni and be the more level-headed of the two. She is a really wonderful heroine in the story and I loved her conflicting characteristics that ended up making her almost more complicated than Jenni. Katie strikes up a friendship with Travis, a leader among a group of survivors the two women come across. Their relationship is interesting and complicated and I'm really looking forward to where their friendship goes throughout the rest of the trilogy.
This was a book I was both excited and nervous about reading, but in the end it lived up to all the hype and took me on a ride that I can certainly say no other book has.
Recommended for fans of: zombies (duh), The Walking Dead, strong female characters, interesting relationships, emotional rollercoasters, death by shovel.