I tried, fuck did I try. There comes a point where the pain exceeds your threshold for it.
Content Warning: rape, sexual assault/harassment
To tell the truth, I’m just not into zombies. You can call it over saturation fatigue because I feel that the subject has been thoroughly explored from perspectives ranging to the zombies themselves. So as I began reading the first couple of lines, an eerily familiar sensation flooded and I couldn’t help but shake my head and sigh.
Alyx lives in a post-apocalyptic world where they aren’t using the term zombies (in this case it’s Infected) but don’t necessarily establish new rules. Instead, it relies on the fact that the audience is already knowledgeable of how the zombie virus spreads. There’s little to no world building describing how survivors live outside vague descriptions the reader has to interpret. These inconsequential aspects make it difficult to suspend disbelief since it reads as if the characters exist in any generic zombie infested world. I want to know how society has restructured instead of filling in the gaps for someone who doesn’t bother to explain anything.
Instead, these important details are left aside in favor of clumsily shoving in tired tropes from an era of early 2010s YA:
- Constant mentions of Will’s eyes which shifts between shades of green but are always luminous (obviously)
- Alyx remarking that she’s definitely not a girly girl without prompting (why is this even matter in a post-apocalypse? This is almost as bad as a homophobe tacking on the phrase, “no homo”, to remind people that they are indeed not gay. Who the fuck would care)
- Girl hate because the thought that another young female character existing is automatically a threat (let’s have Alyx sexualize Winter and then unjustly decide that she is a thot)
- Third wheel romance because the disgusting flirting wasn’t enough (imagine children hitting and teasing each other and call it a form of endearment and not general harassment)
- Oh and there’s some rapey scenes which accomplishes to illustrate that Alyx is desirable and allows her love interests to come save her
This is inherently problematic because no one really acknowledges how toxic Bobby is. He’s presented as the overblown cartoonish villain so everyone casually labels him a “perv” or “sleezebag” without the implication that he is capable of violence. In fact, he has on multiple occasions acted on it whether physical or verbal. It’s not addressed beyond adding a bit of dramatic tension into the story. I can say that the rape attempt was gratuitous and quickly forgotten. The reader doesn’t need a graphic scene since it was meant to remind us that zombies are not the only enemy. I just want to say it could have been handled more tastefully/meaningful.
So, by this point you and I are wondering where Tommy has gone. The reason for finding another compound was because of a lazy plot connivence. Yet, now this is hilarious, Tommy hardly gets any dialogue. It’s all about Alyx and how she feels and making progress on her love life. Some side characters are given attention but on the condition that Alyx can insert herself into the spotlight. This is to give her character development like how great of a sister she is and how much she cares for Joe.
I thought that this book was just Tommy and Alyx on a mission to find a cure hence the title itself. There would be some depressing moments but also heartfelt ones where Tommy and Alyx bond after this traumatic event. Perhaps the climax involves the difficult decision of whether or not Tommy will turn furthering the conflict. The reason Tommy is infected would have been an opportunity for character development like trying to go back to their wrecked home to retrieve an item filled with memories. Damn, it could also be something as blasé as taking a walk outside the boarders because he’s lulled into the belief that life is back to normal. I can’t help but think that this was wasted potential of a bygone YA structure that may appeal to new readers but not seasoned ones.
Thanks to Netgalley and Troubador Publishing Limited for this advance reader’s copy in exchange for a fair review.
For a fairly generic book, this is a unique cover. The illustrations are spot on and immediately communicate the supposed tone. I also love the type choice and how it mimics this sort of woodsy feel. The colors are unsettling but not dull. I appreciate the thought that went into this design.