Monday, 16 September 2013

Review: Five More Days With The Dead

Book Summary (from Amazon)

Almost eight years ago the world changed and the laws of nature were broken. By the hand of man or by God, no-one knew for sure but now the dead were forever denied the solace of their dark oblivion. It was simple, if you died you came back, if you got bitten you came back. It didn't matter who you once were or what you once did, that was all gone now. All would become just one more of the Dead, stalking the living with a desperate hunger for flesh. But hope blossomed and life found a way. In rural areas, small communities of survivors clung to each other for safety and comfort and rebuilt their lives. They farmed, they scavenged, they made the best of this life that had been thrust upon them. In the Cornish countryside two such communities worked together, so all could survive. The high stone walls of the Lanherne convent and the secure fences of the Sub-station kept the living safe and the Dead at bay but with the hungry rotting corpses forever at their gates, things could never be the same again… or could they?


Five More Days With The Dead is the sequel to Six Days With The Dead by Stephen Charlick. My review for the first book can be found here.

I was eager to read this book because the first in the series was amazing and I hoped the second would be just as good - if not, better. In the first book Charlick used the archetype of a religious fanatic as the big baddie, this time we have a military archetype. Cruel, sadistic and all too capable, the big baddies in this book are a typical example of how the military is used in zombie media. Did this disappoint me? No. Why? Because they had a purpose besides being the evil that has to be overcome. SPOILER ALERT! The military bought with them a cure, of sorts. So for all the lack of humanity displayed by these living people, they did something amazing. With a cure the world can end the cycle of the Dead. After all, it's all well and good if you can fight back the numbers of the dead, but if new ones are joining the ranks it looks like a long, exhausting battle, which is unlucky to be won.

The book is kick started with a very dramatic opening. I loved it. And it gave you enough basic background to, perhaps, read this book without having read the first book. I would certainly suggest reading the first book though, the twists in it are great.

Charlick is great at character development and has a way of making readers really like characters. This time, with my old favourite Jackson dead, I found myself liking Phil (perhaps because he takes centre stage at some points). I realised, while reading this, that the inclusion of other races, sexualities and ages really makes this book diverse in a way that some zombie media really fails to be. From films and the occasional bit of television I've watched it seems as though the ingredients are as follows: a white majority cast, with women for show, damselling or 'wow I can't believe a woman could kick ass'  value, majority (if not all) heterosexual, and some old people or children thrown in to kill off and allow for heroic rescues (or heart wrenching failures). I think Charlick deviants well from this norm. Everyone plays an important role, from the elderly to the children. Even pregnant women are out doing their part in the dangerous world instead of living comfortably in seclusion.

However, I would have liked a little more Jen and Steve development. I was left wondering why Steve's mother married his father if he is such a detestable man. Was he always this way? If yes then wouldn't Steve dislike both parents? If not, then what changed? Why was he always a disappointment to his father? As for Jen I would have liked more development because she was a weak stranger who rescued children who were not her responsibility and then had the good sense to follow the wisdom of children. She risked a lot and is clearly a brave character. I feel that we'll see more of her in the next book, though, along with Leon and other members from Patrick's camp.

This is one of those books, like the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, that I find so engaging that I don't want to put it down. Ever. Until I'm done. Then I want to read the next one immediately. I'm up early to read this book, and up late to read some more. I can't get enough of Charlick's books, and I will be sad when the series ends. However, I greatly  look forward to more of Charlick's work because of his engaging writing style.

Once again I like the use of epilogue to follow up the story and tie up loose ends. It helps stem the 'oh no, it's over all ready' feeling when you reach the last page of the last chapter. What I did notice is that there were quite a few grammatical and spelling errors, particularly towards the middle and latter part of the book. I found some of these to be pretty distracting and they sometimes upset the flow of reading.

Overall, this is an amazing book. I would suggest this book for anyone who likes zombies and/or horror. Charlick's ability to engage all the senses and make good characters likeable  while making bad characters truly dislikeable is a talent that not every writer has. That Charlick can give each character of the cast an individual personality, role and background helps to immerse the reader deeper in the world of the Dead. In this book Charlick also plays with time, allowing the reader to experience two different places or situation at the same time, often converging at some point, with clear relation to the overall timeline to avoid confusion. I liked that characters and events from the previous book weren't entirely forgotten, this helped it feel like a natural continuation rather than a stand alone novel.

Star Rating
4.5 / 5

While I do often overlook spelling and grammar mistakes, some were glaringly obvious and interrupted the pace of my reading. For that reason I've deducted half a star. Otherwise, this is a brilliant, five star book, a great follow up to the first book Six Days With The Dead.  

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