And the will to live amongst the unliving.
Augustus Berry lives a day-to-day existence comprised of waking up, getting drunk, and preparing for the inevitable day when "they" will come up the side of his mountain and penetrate his fortress. Living on the outskirts of a city and scavenging for whatever supplies remain after civilization died two years ago, Gus knows that every time he goes down into undead suburbia could be his last.
Contains graphic language and scenes of violence.
The first thing that catches the eye about the series are the gorgeous covers which show the area that our anti-hero lives in. And Gus is certainly an anti-hero! I first encountered him in a novella prequel called The Hospital, and I certainly enjoyed that enough to grab the main books in the series though I haven't read them all yet. If you get the chance, grab The Hospital which sets the scene for the life that Gus is living.
Gus is basically an overweight, unfit, anti-social alcoholic who talks to empty bottles of alcohol when he isn't grabbing supplies and killing zombies. He is so far removed from a hero but that is what I like about him. He is a man who has survived two years in the mountains in a world knee-deep in zombies by a mixture of planning and luck, and when he gets it wrong, it goes bad quickly. He is not the smartest of guys, and is obviously under mental strain which I can understand, and can be downright dumb at times but it makes him more of a real character.
Scott and his friends are also scavenging in town and are about to fall foul of a gleeful serial killer who is using the zombie apocalypse to kill as many survivors as possible on his road trip. Scott is about to get in his way which leads him to Gus. Scott is then torn between helping Gus and living in safety as his assistant or going after the killer to get his revenge. I liked Scott and it certainly livened the book up when his story began to intersect with Gus. With him around, Gus starts to look a bit more normal.
Now there are a couple of things about this book that did detract from my enjoyment of it. There was way too much about Gus getting drunk in his house on a daily basis. I get that he is mentally damaged from the stress of living in this world, mostly on his own, but it did get a bit wearing to hear about every drink he took and every hangover he has. Frankly if he was this drunk all the time he would've been eaten by zombies a long time ago. I certainly hope the drinking thing reduces as the series goes on as it wasn't greatly interesting to read about all the time.
The other thing that I really disliked was Roxanne being introduced to ruin the team dynamic. I never liked or trusted her from page one and I was suspicious of her motives. To be fair to the author, Roxanne was put there for a specific plot purpose and I liked the way that bit of plot played out into a near disaster for Gus, and into a Scarface style 'say hello to my little friend' finale! That was actually the best bit of the book and was very well written and exciting. So as much as Roxanne annoyed me, she was crucial to the plot and it did turn out to be a very satisfying storyline to read.
The scenes where Gus encounters the zombies, the bad guys and Scott encounters the serial killers are all very well written. The author does a good job of bringing action and tension into the plot and keeping the reader interested in Gus and his life. It does get a little slow in places but it is worth it to read to the end as it finishes with a serious bang.
Overall I'm in two minds about whether to give it 3 or 4 stars and I keep changing my mind about it so until I reread it I will split the difference and give it 3.5.