Could it be? Is this really a zombie novel with two bad ass heroines kicking butt and taking names? Oh. No. It isn't.
I'll give Frater credit where credit is due: this story starts off like a really awesome slap in the face. We're introduced to Jenni, who is staring at the tiny baby fingers of her toddler son reaching under a crack in her door. Why? Because her abusive and zombified husband is having him for a snack. Her other son has been bitten by her husband, too, and is trying to claw out of the house via the window to take a chunk out of mommy. Jenni is only saved when Lesbian Katie (more on this in a minute) rolls up and gets her into the truck before she becomes zombie lunchmeat. Then, I'm afraid, begins the agonizing spiral into What The Shit Is This Land.
Here are the problems with this book:
Jenni, you suck. After Jenni is rescued and she and Katie find a place to hole up for a while, she offers herself up to Lesbian Katie. I get it in a way. Coming from an abusive household, one might safely assume that Jenni has been brainwashed into thinking that she's nothing but a puppet for the needs of other people. Since Katie is the one that rescued her, it might be logical for Jenni to assume that sex is the price for safety and protection, making it really easy to not see this situation for what it is, which is just the first in a long line of scenarios in which Jenni thinks with her netherparts instead of her brain. Jenni's all-consuming goal of getting laid is so overwhelming for her that she forgets that she has a stepson that she needs to rescue (which, if I'm being honest, feels like just an impetus for Frater to insert a fancy action sequence into her story because her stepson is basically pointless after his rescue) and that she's lost her two sons less than a week prior. In short: abort, abort, abort.
Katie, you don't suck as much as Jenni. You're Diet Suck. I have dubbed Katie Lesbian Katie because ninety percent of the narrative about her is about her sexuality. In fact, the parts about her read less like a zombie novel and more like shitty dialogue in a Lifetime movie about gay acceptance. No, really, it gets so bad that Lesbian Katie goes out of her way to have a completely inappropriate and, frankly, pointless conversation about her sexuality with Jenni's adolescent stepson. She entrusted a fifteen year old the secret of her bisexuality; the whole bit felt more like an unnecessary scene for Frater to explain Katie's blossoming attraction with a man, when, if it had been kept out of the book, the story would not have been lacking.
Also, Frater's dudes sound like ladies. You know how annoying Bella Swan was in Twilight mooning over Edward? That was basically every male character in this book.
One thing that Frater did really well was make sure that there was a lot of action. I liked that part about her writing because with the limited wriggle room available with zombie lore, stories can become dull or repetitive, which makes interpersonal relationships between characters necessary. Here is the problem. Much of the story focused on a stupid love quadrangle - Jenni loves cock (Travis', first), Travis loves Lesbian Katie, Juan loves Jenni, Katie wants to mourn her undead wife in peace - which was given far more importance than it should have. I was much more intrigued with the politics of the little community that Jenni and Katie found themselves in instead of a dumb game of elementary school Love Connection.
- General issues:
Every single character says, "Gawd" instead of "God". So it was pages of, "Oh my Gawd," and "Gawd, that's terrible," from every single character. I realize that this was a stylistic choice by Frater, but it made me want to punch puppies when every single character started to sound like an unintelligent Scarlett O'Hara.
It was super cute when Juan gave Jenni the nickname Loca. It stopped being cute around the four hundredth time he went out of his way to call her Loca. It made me wonder if Frater has ever had a conversation with a real person because every single sentence was peppered with her name, unnecessarily. Things he actually said: "You're loca, Loca." Shut up. The only redeeming quality about Juan is that I couldn't unsee him as Kevin Alejandro in my head:
Execution of the story in general was pretty bad. I had comprehension problems with the way Frater described things, but I didn't expect so much when I realized this book was a self-published deal. And it's no wonder. Gawd.