Top critical review
Could have been excellent.
on 12 April 2013
I feel a little guilty giving this book only three stars, as really it is better than that, but the issues I had with it required me to lower the rating to only three.
The positive aspects of this novel are that the author creates very good characters, and for me this is essential to good fiction writing, as you want characters you are invested in and care what happens to them. In this book - and the first book of the series for that matter - the writer manages to do this very well. The characters feel real, with romances that are a little flowery at times, but believable as well. Thankfully Katie whines a lot less in this book as well, or I may have wanted to push her into the zombies myself if I'd had to hear to much more of her internal conflict about Travis and Lydia.
The plot lines for both character and story in general are good, with the exception of my negatives further down this review. The action comes along often enough to avoid the book stagnating in to long lulls of character interplay, and when it does it is generally well written with a good pace to it. I do wish sometimes she would write a little more about the weapons the people are carrying, as she tends to only use the terms "rifle" or "pistol" for everyone, and for me that always leaves a cloudy picture of what they might be actually using as a weapon.
Now I need to deal with the issues that made me rate the book lower than I would have. The two main plot lines in the book revolve around the hotel and bandits, though of course with the ever present zombie threat. These could have been very good, but I had issues with believing how she wrote the hotel and bandit plot lines. Without giving away too much of the plot I'll try and explain why I had issues with them.
In the hotel, which they have decided to clear out due to the need to make more room for the expanding camp they are now facing, several of the things that happen just didn't make sense, or seem believable to me. At one point a zombie falls off the ceiling with no explanation of what it was doing up there in the first place. Did we have Spiderman making an appearance? Or perhaps it was a case of the world's first ninja zombie? Okay, it wasn't all terrible, but a few points jarred me as not feeling very realistic or likely.
The bandits plot point really annoyed me, as it centers on them being concerned they would be attacked at some point by the bandits that killed Ralph at the end of the first book. Now, this is something that often happens in self-published books where I assume the writer forgets what they wrote. As in the first book when the bandits killed, Ralph, his wife killed all five of them using a zombie to kill them, and then shot them when they rose as zombies themselves. I honestly didn't find that likely that one zombie managed to bite five men, but leaving that aside, it still made no sense for the second book. How can you be concerned about bandits when you killed them all and didn't see any others before you leave to head to the fort? And this is exactly what happened at the end of the first book. Yes, maybe concerned about bandits in general, but they make frequent reference to being worried about the bandits that killed Ralph, and not about other bandit groups that maybe at large in the area.
The last issue was a small one about her writing, as I noticed she did sometimes write sentences that had odd word usage, which made them not make a lot of sense. One example I recall her using twice at least was "nefarious" in really the wrong context. I recall one of the sentences being something like, "The Pipkin family auto repair shop was nefarious for underhanded dealings." It's a small issue I know, but it happened a few times through the book.
As a side note: The subplot of the vigilante was a bit easy for me to solve as a reader I found. I had a guess after one thing happened, was certain after two things, and was wondering if the resident police chief of the fort, Bill, was an idiot after four incidents had occurred and he seemed to have no leads. I'm not sure how it drags on to book three, but I wouldn't class it the subplot as a negative on the book, just me saying I'm certain who it is even without reading book three.
Overall don't take my negative comments as a reason not to read the book, as it is a good read, but you may find you agree with some of my criticism afterwards. There is plenty to enjoy in it as well though, and but for my small negatives this would have been a four or maybe even a five star review.