Zombie-fighting and romance. There’s room for both in Dead Country. This story is set in the same terrifying world as Bonnie Dee’s bestselling After the End, but follows the adventures of new characters.
Brian Pasman is stuck in his hometown of Durbinville, Kansas—again. On the cusp of graduating from Caltech when a family illness brings him home, his life is changed forever by the zombie apocalypse. Several months into the invasion, order is slowly being restored, but this small town is not a priority and the citizens are left to fend for themselves behind a ramshackle barricade.
Into the routine horror of zombie-killing which has become Brian’s life rides a force of change on a Harley. Ashleigh Jennings has been on her own most of her life. She's been a maid, a waitress and an exotic dancer but dreams of a singing career. Her lively personality shakes Brian awake, making him appreciate life more than he had even before the nightmare struck.
The motorcycle group’s arrogant leader clashes with the equally domineering head of the town council, but the two groups must join forces when a new wave of the undead sweeps across the prairie. Can Brian come up with a battle plan to save the town or is his education in probabilities only good in theory?
This is the second book by the author set in the zombie apocalypse, the first being 'After the End' but these are all totally new characters.
Brian and Fes are part of a zombie killing patrol in their home town of Durbinville and are fearful when Ashleigh's motorcycle group approach, looking for somewhere to rest for a few days on their journey south. The group are allowed to stay but unknown to the town they are concealing a sick child, bitten by a zombie. Despite the differences between the new group and the townspeople, when packs of zombies start threatening the town, everyone has to work together to survive.
The actual plot was good. Brian was at college, living the dream of escaping his dull town when he came home for a visit just as the apocalypse came, leaving him trapped. Fes was never able to escape the town and wonders now if he ever will. They are doing patrols to kill any zombies outside the town fences to keep everyone safe when the motorcycles pull up. When they realise the strangers mean them no harm they escort the group to town and they are reluctantly given sanctuary if they help with the coming harvest, which is agreed. However a sudden zombie attack in the fields takes everyone by surprise and the survivors are quarantined, leading to angry exchanges between the town council and the strangers. Attacks on the town increase and nerves are on edge as Brian battles to come up with a plan to save them.
I liked Brian as a character. He's smart and could be doing a lot more to help the town instead of just zombie patrol, something soon realised by the town council after the field attack. I also like Fes, who is devoted to his town and doing whatever is necessary to keeping it safe. Janice, the head of the council, is quite happy to issue orders and sleep in her bed at night while ordinary people do all the work to keep them safe. I hated the lazy bitch. Ashleigh also annoyed me. She is always getting annoyed by Daylon not taking her seriously and moaning that she wants to be an independent woman who doesn't rely on men to take care of her but the first thing she does when she meets Brian is try to seduce him so he will take care of her. She is happy to use her looks and body to get what she wants then whines about men only seeing her that way. Shut up and stop moaning you stupid tart!
What did drive me crazy were the motorcycle group. First they lie about having a bitten child so they can get into the town and enjoy food, water, beds, showers and electricity. They are quite happy to endanger the whole town and betray the goodness of Brian who vouched for them. One of them who is believed dead in the field attack turns up alive days later and is furious that no search team was sent out to find her. Yeah, everyone that got back to town escaped by the their skin and the zombie's teeth and they would endanger a whole new group of people by sending them out there for someone believed dead? Selfish much? They whine about working to earn their keep despite the fact that they offered to work! The strangers kick off about going into quarantine after the attack to be checked for bites and act as if the town are being unreasonable about protecting their citizens. When the concealment of the infected child is discovered and the group are told to leave, they think they are being badly treated! They are a bunch of rude ungrateful tossers!
Putting aside some real idiots amongst the characters there is some decent zombie action in the book set against a backdrop of a community fighting to survive. There is tension as each night gunshots are heard on the town boundaries with the odd zombie getting in and having to be put down. I liked the scenes with the attack in the fields and of course the big finale. They were quite well written and enjoyable.
There are a few sex scenes which I don't think add much to the overall plot and I just skipped them. I didn't feel any real chemistry between Brian and Ashleigh and I think he could've done better for himself. But this is marketed as zombie romance so I just skipped the bits that bored me. Not the best in the genre but a decent enough read.
Read March 2017.