Allison Hewitt is a snarky graduate student at work in the local bookstore when zombies invade, trapping her in the break room with her coworkers and a couple of regulars. These are not people she would choose to spend time with, so she hooks into a military wireless network and starts blogging.
Allison Hewitt is Trapped actually started out as a blog. The blog is still up, and the entries have an immediacy that brings the story to life. As Allison’s story progressed, some of the blog’s followers started to comment, adding originality, context, and believability to the situation. Unfortunately, some of this is lost in the book. That’s partly due to the author framing the story as historical (someone tracks down Allison’s blog entries in hopes that she will be included in a book on heroes of the apocalypse) and partly due to her signing a contract with St. Martin’s, which led to her writing the rest as a novel. In the case of Allison Hewitt, format really does make a difference.
Allison and the bookstore crew do eventually escape, and she goes on a search for her mom. She stays for a short time at a refugee camp at the university, where she quickly falls for the guy in charge, who also happens to be married. His wife shows up just before a newly formed cult of deranged housewives decides to take prisoners, and, after showing what can really be done with a laptop, Allison is back on the road searching for her mom.
Allison Hewitt is Trapped is a gripping, literate read. Allison’s dark humor, passion, determination, and decisive action carry the story, and the secondary characters are a lot of fun. I will say it’s hard to believe a religious cult could develop as quickly as the Black Earth Mothers- the story takes place over a very short time, less than three months. Allison’s love affair is also very brief, if intense, and it’s confusing (and annoying) that her friends have such immediate antipathy towards the wife. But these things didn’t slow me down or prevent me from enjoying the book. I fell in love with Allison the day she went scavenging for food in the bookstore and instead started grabbing armfuls of books, knowing that she’d probably draw unwanted attention (she did).
Allison Hewitt is Trapped has been packaged as an urban fantasy, and it’s been blurbed by MaryJanice Davidson as being incredibly funny. I’d say that’s misleading. Yes, parts of it take place in a city, but there’s nothing supernatural (zombification is caused by a virus), and the romance is understated. It’s not funny in a laugh out loud sense, either. Although Allison often writes with humor, she isn’t playing for laughs. She’s doing her best to survive, and trying to reach her mom. MaryJanice Davidson’s readers aren’t the audience for this… but smart, literate women who love zombies (or can at least handle the gore) will love Allison Hewitt is Trapped. Highly recommended for public libraries and lovers of zombie fiction.
Review by Kirsten Kowalewski