Top critical review
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on 6 August 2014
Not a bad little zombie novella, really, but I didn't like it much. I find Grant's writing quite workmanlike - competent but dull. I had the same impression after reading "Feed", and could not get past the first few chapters of the second book in that trilogy. I did, on the other hand, quite like "Countdown" and the novella about the sci-fi convention, so thought I'd give this one a shot.
As ever, tension is well-evoked, and the narrative is well-structured and well-paced.
However, the main character is quite unsympathetic - she doesn't seem to care much for the very small children in her charge, and makes some catastrophic decisions with horrible outcomes, about which, again, she doesn't seem to care. Maybe this is supposed to be a complex woman who has been hardened by the world in which she lives, but I just didn't buy it.
I also find the narrative device of interspersing the main story segments with emails between two of Grant's blogger characters from the Feed trilogy ineffective, irritating and not a little smug.
I'm not sure what the point of this endeavour was; nothing is learned, no thoughts are provoked, no emotions stirred. It's just (SPOILERS ALERT!): zombies loose in school, teacher is rubbish, loads of kids die, the end. A pointless diversion unleavened by beauty or wit. I went straight from this to M.R. Carey's The Girl With All The Gifts, and what a contrast there was between Grant's stolid, journeyman effort and Carey's fluid, vivid, intelligent zombie world-building.
I would also highly recommend Hugh Howey's I, Zombie and Alden Bell's The Reapers Are the Angels, for exciting, well-written zombie novels with depth and meaning.