The First Days by Rhiannon Frater
Reading level: Adult
Trade paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Macmillan (Tor)
Release date: August 14, 2008
Series: As The World Dies #1
Source: Personal shelf
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.
They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form.
Fast-paced and exciting, filled with characters who grab your heart, The First Days: As the World Dies is the beginning of a frightening trilogy.
I was urged to read this book by a couple of book bloggers (Ashley, a.k.a. The Zombie Queen from The Bookish Brunette and Giselle from XpressoReads) when I showed some interest in zombie books. My only regret is not reading THE FIRST DAYS sooner! After only a few pages, I was hooked! The first scene really captured my attention since it’s so realistic, even for a zombie scene. It’s where we meet one of the main characters, Jenni (with an “i”), as she’s facing zombies for the first time. Her zombie husband and two boys are trying to get out of the house to eat her, while she’s on the porch, looking at the monsters her family has become. That scene is truly touching and engaging. I applaud Rhiannon Frater for creating such a visual and credible scene.
As Jenni and the other main character, Katie, flee the city, that’s when we realize how bad their situation is. We join them on their journey to survival as they search for a safe place to stay. This book is genuinely about what happens during the first days of the mass infection and invasion of the zombies. Thankfully, as Katie points out, no one gest holed up in a shopping mall. Instead, Jenni and Katie find a group of ingenious people that have built a fort in the middle of a small Texas town. Once in the fort, the two women are able to slow down a little and ponder their situation. Katie really starts to grieve her dead zombie spouse. Jenni, however, goes a little loca as she tries to get her revenge by going on a zombie killing spree.
One of the geniuses that built the fort is Travis, who plays the role of main “hero” that every zombie story needs (and who is probably the only Texan in the book that’s a little gun shy!). He is loved by everyone, including Jenni and Katie. Personally, I love how they both want his attention, but not really for the same reason. Or so we think at first. You have to love the good old love triangle and the jealousy that ensues. However, this isn’t your average kind of love triangle…
I could go on and on about the great characters of this story but I’ll stop at these three. The banter and the dialogue between the character is what really made this book enjoyable. I probably enjoyed the characters and their relationships more than the story itself, if that makes sense. The only little problem I had with the novel was the pacing. Everything seemed to happen slow at first, especially when they were just driving around, and then so much happened in the the last few pages. The ending was a great way to hook the readers and have them anticipate the sequel, but to me, it felt just a bit too rushed. Mind you, I bought the sequel right after finishing this book, so I guess Rhiannon knows how to do her job!
Even if you don’t like zombie books, I think anyone could enjoy the main storyline, which is trying to survive in a broken world. The way the author depicted the survival of the characters was very convincing. I could feel their anguish about losing everyone they loved and their pain when they had to let go of their old lives. However, if you really can’t stand gore and killing, you might want to skip this one. For those of you who LOVE zombie books, this is for you! You have to go and read it right now!
If you want to know more about the book, I urge you to read the awesome scene that started it all!