This is one of the books I recently received in the mail and I was interested enough to take a break from my PhD and novel writing to read it.
Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madaleine Roux
Debut zombie novel! That is, debut novel about zombies, not written by a zombie. Taking to the streets with axes! Gore! Fleeing Groaners and apocalyptically-inclined religious types! Food shortages! Shopping expeditions more dangerous than a New Year’s Day sale! Searching for your mum! Falling in love with the wrong man! Risking your life to rescue books! Yes, I have just used up my year’s supply of exclamation marks.
When the zombie apocalypse strikes, grad student Alison is working in a bookstore. She and some colleagues hole up in a safe room for a while, making fraught excursions out to get more food, all the while emailing and blogging their cries for help. Eventually, they’re forced out and have to find a new hiding place before going on a road to try and find safety.
Alison Hewitt is Trapped is made up of blog posts written by the protagonist as she and her band do their best to survive in the new zombie world order. It was a good, fast read, although I had to set aside the little voice in my head that said ‘Mmmm, certainly handy to be able to use the military’s internetz, and there always seems to be power around for the laptop when needed – at last, an apocalypse with all the conveniences of modern living.’ Notwithstanding that, I did enjoy the story. It’s got some depth and complexity – it’s not just a ‘run away from the zombies’ story, it also deals with issues of what people will do to survive and the fine line between survival and a loss of humanity. Flesh-eaters aren’t the only things Alison needs to worry about and humans can be far more dangerous – at least you know what a zombie is going to do.
Alison Hewitt is fast-paced and doesn’t let up. It reads the way a Romero zombie movie views, with frights a-plenty and a hard, clammy grip on the reader that keeps you enmeshed in the narrative.
That being said, the annoyances for me were two-fold. Firstly, repetitions of words did abound (yes, yes, my pet hate) and that could have been tidied up by some judicious editing. Secondly, I didn’t get much out of the framing letters at beginning and end. The initial letter is by someone asking that Alison Hewitt’s adventures be included in the official history of the rebuilding of society, and the last one being a snooty refusal by an academic who thinks an axe-wielding woman who did anything to survive isn’t quite the ticket, thank you very much. It felt a bit stilted and didn’t add much to a novel that, in my opinion, had sufficient strength to stand on its own without hokey framing devices that seemed to say ‘Insert action here’.
But t’is a good debut and Hachette can pat themselves on the back for picking up this new author. I believe the book started as an online project (helptheyarecoming.wordpress.com/) and it’s interesting to see another internet-to-book project make the transition successfully.
For the zombie-inclined, two thumbs up!