Title: Dead New World
Author: Ryan Hill
Genre: YA paranormal (zombies)
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Available: Amazon $4.99 (Kindle)
Rating: 4 stars
Zombies aren’t mindless anymore.
Before the world fell into chaos, zombies existed only in the imagination. Now, there’re more dead walking the earth than living. Zombies move about freely, while humans are forced behind concrete barricades to stay alive.
A man known only as the Reverend has become a threat to the rebuilding United States. The leader of a powerful cult, the Reverend somehow controls the zombies, bending them to his will. He believes zombies are God’s latest creation, making humanity obsolete, and he wants to give every man, woman, and child the chance to become one. With the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, his army composed of both humans and zombies, he may well get his wish.
Best friends Holt and Ambrose went up against the Reverend once. Holt lost a foot and a zombie bit Ambrose… though he didn’t completely turn. He survived the virus, only to become a human-zombie hybrid, reviled by the living and unwelcome among the dead. When the Reverend kidnaps the woman Holt loves, the race is on to save her from a fate worse than death.
Holt and Ambrose must sacrifice everything to take down the Reverend and survive in this dead new world. But will they lose their souls in the process?
What I liked.
I have to start by saying I have limited experience with zombies of any kind. I'm not a fan of the traditional Hollywood-type zombie apocalypses, so a twist on that had more appeal for me and certainly worked in giving the story that extra edge. Ambrose fascinated me - the whole idea of a human-zombie hybrid. I loved the idea of the Reverend and the quasi-religious fanaticism. It's also rare to have a handicapped hero, and I felt this was done well (though not always entirely believable. However, in this scenario not even military can afford to turn down someone who can handle a gun despite the artificial limb proving the occasional setback, so it allowed the possibility). While part of the world building was fairly standard post apocalyptic, the idea of the zombie colony (like a leper colony) was interesting, and the idea of tying in the apocalypse with zombies in a more SF type end of the world than a paranormal rising of the dead kind. I did feel the author had the voice right for YA.
What I didn't like.
I didn't much like or empathize with Holt, and emotionally speaking the story fell a little flat...until near the end. Then *spoilers* wham! Prepare to have your heart ripped out and stomped on! In my mind, Ambrose was more of the hero than Holt, and I would rather have seen it told at least partially from his POV (but maybe I'm biased toward a zombie hero after Warm Bodies). The story did drag a bit between action scenes - a little more trimming down on wordage or being more visceral would have picked up the pace somewhat.
If you like the traditional zombie shoot-em-up but want extra and/or a different twist on it, this will satisfy you on both levels, and hopefully appeal to traditional zombie fans and those who might not normally pick up a zombie book. Those who like more emotional impact might find this a bit lacking. Although the story was complete, it left an opening for a sequel (which I would love to read).