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Friday, December 14, 2012

Amongst the Dead by David Bernstein

Amongst the Dead by David Bernstein
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery, Futuristic
Length: Full length (220 pages)
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Young and alone against the living dead.

Riley has lived alone with her dad in an isolated cabin in New York State for as long as she can remember. It’s just safer. Her dad’s told her about the time before the zombies, but she can only imagine it. Instead of playing with friends, Riley became a crack shot with a rifle. And she’ll need that skill now that her dad’s been bitten. She’ll be forced to leave the cabin and fight off zombies all on her own. She’s twelve years old. There’s a lot she’ll have to learn about the world she’s never really been part of. She already knows how to kill zombies. But now she’ll learn just how dangerous the living can be too.

How does a twelve-year-old survive on her own in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world?

Few things are more frightening than a child fending for his or herself. To be honest I winced more than once as the author brings Riley through a series of terrible events. As much as I enjoy this genre experiencing zombie attacks and unexpected meet-ups with other living people through the eyes of someone so young and vulnerable brought fresh horror to scenes that are rehashed in almost every zombie-pocalypse.

Riley runs into multiple men who want to rape her. Readers who have personal experience with this type of assault should be aware that while these scenes serve important roles in the plot they are eerily realistic. It’s unsettling to think that adults would not only be attracted to a petite, young girl but would act on that urge in such a violent manner. Is this a realistic assumption about human nature in a post-apocalyptic society? Maybe. The vast majority of the people I’ve known - men and women alike - would find that reaction to stumbling across a terrified girl completely unthinkable, though, and even though Riley also meets good people I would have liked to see more examples of the latter. Miscreants will always be outnumbered by the majority of us who’d never harm anyone.

Luckily the plot twist revealed later in this book made it well worth reading. While I figured out what it was fairly early on it was fun to see Riley piece together the clues.I only wish more time could have been spent on the logistics of how certain events came to take place and what happens to Riley and her family in the future. Hopefully Mr. Bernstein will write a sequel one day as I’d be interested in learning more about these fascinating characters.

Amongst the Dead fuses classic undead tropes with a few curve balls. It’s the perfect story for anyone who has ever watched a zombie movie and wished he or she could know what happens to the characters after the credits roll.

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