My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I love a good apocalypse story and zombies can add a great humorous element. I haven’t read any other books in this series but I really struggled with this one. Some of time the story would be entertaining and pages would fly by but then I’d get annoyed by the same issues and I’d not read for several days. It’s not a bad book, it’s just too coincidental and repetitive. I read somewhere a coincidence that lands the characters in a problem is good but a coincidence that gets them out of the problem is lazy. I feel as if that quote typifies exactly what went wrong with ZA: And the Dead Shall Rise, there are so many lazy coincidences that keep life extremely easy for the main characters.
Guy’s day job is being a trainer at a local gym while he gets ready for his third appearance at the Olympics. He’s a crack shot and biathlon athlete in both the summer and winter games when the zombie apocalypse (always called the ZA) comes to his hometown of Toronto. In the following chaos he learns his parents are dead or zombies and he knows he has to leave town. On a trip to the local sporting goods store he encounters the manager, Tracey, and the two decide to team up together. Tracey has been planning for the ZA for years and has all the knowledge he needs to survive. With Guy’s amazing shooting skill, the two are a formidable team. Their decision is helped by the fact they both have been wanting to ask the other out for months and can’t keep their hands to themselves when they figure this out. Together they head out to find a safe place to survive and perhaps thrive.
The book has all the basics of an involved and lengthy story. There’s the immediate aftermath of the ZA, the two men meeting then running away together (literally), finding other survivors, a plan for the future and then the first steps towards building a new kind of life and community while Guy and Tracey fall in love. Unfortunately the basics are simply that – steps taken to get to the next plot point with so many coincidences thrown in to make it easy on everyone. First Tracey has been planning for the apocalypse for years, which isn’t that unusual or abnormal but his level of preparation is ridiculous. Honestly, truly ridiculous. He has lists of all the houses, boats, restaurants including floor plans they could ever possibly need and the amount of upkeep that must be done to ensure that list was always current was mind boggling. Frankly anytime the characters needed something, Tracey or Guy would just happen to have that knowledge and/or be an expert at it. Some useful skills would be nice but literally there is nothing these two can’t do or accomplish with ease. Which leaves them to have tons of kinky sex in the meantime.
Now I’ve no problem with characters getting it on during an apocalypse of any kind. However I found it a bit hard to believe that these two would indulge in their serious kinks immediately while still on the run from zombies. They have lengthy conversations about what gets each other off with zombies rattling at the doors. I didn’t get the impression this was for comedic effect either. In addition to the rampant and pretty kinky sex life they indulge in immediately and often, the two have a bizarre relationship. They seem to require the same steps as a relationship prior to the collapse of civilization down to the conversation about when to stop using condoms. Because using condoms between men who don’t fear disease is a logical decision during the end of life as they know it… why? They have to declare their love for each other before they’ll stop using condoms and again I was kind of stumped at this progression. Sure it’d be nice to spend the rest of a fucked up life with someone you love but come on…this is nearly “any port in a storm” crisis. There are literally no other options for these two so I think the dithering about whether they love each other and want to stay together just doesn’t work in the immediate aftermath of a worldwide apocalypse.
Additionally I found Guy’s dialogue affected and stale. The inclusion of random French words didn’t give the speech a French feel but rather keeps the words stilted and awkward. It felt like a put on and kept reminding me I was reading a book that wanted to have a certain feel but never really achieved it. I found the pages turned fast due to the formatting so sometimes that alone would keep my momentum going to read more and be done with the book. I liked the characters decently enough I just got frustrated with the overly easy solutions and unnecessary relationship tangents. Sometimes the scenes would really hit good notes such as the sex/shooting scene on the boat between Tracey and Guy with their bet. That was a hot and entertaining scene as was the addition of cop and Tracey’s best friends.
Overall the book was ok but I found myself wishing it was over before I hit the halfway point. Too many coincidences and easy outs combined with a truly odd relationship progression, given the situation, and this didn’t really work for me at all. I’m debating reading Konrad and Jase’s story as I liked them as characters better but no doubt they’ll have amazing and perfect survival skills too.