Monday, April 18, 2011

Book Review: The First Days by Rhiannon Frater

Egads, I thought when I first started Rhiannon Frater’s novel The First Days, another zombie book?? I adore zombies as much as any of my fellow horror loving freaks, but it seems that every other horror fiction I pick up nowadays is zombie-themed. However, I was excited to check out Frater’s first “officially” published novel. Frater has built up a lot of buzz over the past few years by self-publishing her novels online; in fact, The First Days actually started as a serial and garnered quite a devoted following! I am always stoked to find new authors who offer up new visions of horror, and I was ecstatic to discover that The First Days wasn’t any old, run-of-the-mill zombie novel, but instead offered a fresh take on the popular genre.

The First Days starts with a bang…and the rending and tearing of flesh as one bright morning the dead start coming back to life and devouring the living. Two strangers, Katie and Jenni, must band together to escape the suburbs and the horror of their zombified families and flee to the Texan countryside. The horror doesn’t end there, as they must battle the hordes of fast-moving undead to seek safety and shelter with other survivors in a small fortified town.

The First Days offers zombie fans several new aspects to the genre. First, it is set in the wide-open landscape of the hot Texan countryside. The isolated location seems ideal for this apocalyptic tale and despite the sparsely populated towns dotting the landscape, there are plenty of zombies to overwhelm our heroines. Frater also re-tools the zombie characters a bit as well, giving us the frightful notion of fast-moving, highly aggressive (and sometimes cognizant and intelligent) zombies. While this certainly isn’t a new perspective, it’s still nice to see something slightly tweaked that makes for an all-the-more terrifying read.

The most unique aspect of the novel is that it features two female leads (yay!). They are flawed, have their moments of weakness and sometimes even act a little silly (like crushing on a guy during a zombie siege), but they are also strong women who will do anything to protect each other and when zombies (or people who’ve been bitten and therefore infected) need to be put down, they get the job done. I definitely appreciated seeing strong female characters who were developed so well and who I truly came to admire and cheer on. The rest of the characters were also well-developed, and I especially took a special shine to Juan, a cowboy and resident zombie expert who kept bemoaning the fact that the zombies were fast instead of slow like in Romero’s films.

The First Days is the first book in a trilogy that will be released by Tor Books. The second and third installments, Fighting to Survive and Siege, will follow quickly on the heels of First Days’ July 2011 release. However, they cannot be released quickly enough for me, as I am eagerly anticipating Frater’s next two books in the series!

Available on Amazon!

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