Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not all monsters are monsters...

by Sophie Littlefield

I have always thought that the strongest writers have a deep understanding of psychology, an ability not just to get at the complex thoughts and emotions of their characters, but to articulate them as well. And to create characters who are internally consistent, believable, and who breathe life. I generally muse over such thoughts while reading some piece of delicate literary fiction. How astounding, therefore, that the complicated characters are what I find driving Sophie Littlefield’s latest zombie apocalypse.

It is the “latest,” in that it is book two of her Aftertime Trilogy. If you have not yet read Aftertime, please do so before embarking on Rebirth. Aftertime can stand alone; Rebirth can not. It builds on what has come before.

I’m not going to go into detail summarizing the plot here, but I will say a few things… This novel, like the previous one, is driven by a hunt for a missing child. In it, Dor, one of the secondary characters from Aftertime, comes front and center. And perhaps most daring of all for a novel in the zombie genre, the zombies are little in evidence this time around. Oh, their threat hangs over everything in this wholly changed world, but of the many monsters you’ll meet on these pages, almost all are human. And they are all the scarier and more disturbing for it. The story told is compelling, fast-paced, and deeply chilling.

Second books of trilogies are notoriously tricky things. Often they are intermissions before the end game, and they can loose their narrative drive. Happily, that is not the case here. Cass Dollar, the protagonist of Aftertime, is still at the heart of this story. I, personally, don’t relate to her any better than I did in the first novel. Nonetheless, I find her absolutely fascinating. She’s a tough, volatile character surviving in an unbearably harsh world. Love and revenge, often at war with each other, are the emotions that drive these characters.

This is a zombie tale for fans of The Walking Dead, readers who can appreciate a truly smart, profoundly disturbing, and ultimately character-driven tale of horror—and hopefully redemption. I could have quit reading after Aftertime. That novel concluded its arc and ended at a satisfying point. Rebirth also completes a full arc of the story. However, by the time you get to the end, you will be aching to read on. Just a little more torture from Littlefield, as we collectively wait to get our hands on the final volume!

NOTE: A signed copy of Rebirth will be tomorrow's Humpday Giveaway.  Please check back to enter!

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