Eddie Keeper and his wife prepared for the fall of society. They outfitted their ranch for survival, built up defenses and stockpiled years worth of supplies. When the collapse arrives as an engineered plague instead of a monetary collapse, their plans of hunkering down and hiding until order is restored are thrown out the window. Instead they work to save people from the fast moving illness and to maintain a small safe zone around their home.
But in this new world, survivors will kill for supplies, criminals have free reign and all the others are zombies that hunt the uninfected. Eddie struggles to maintain his sense of right and wrong in this post-apocalyptic landscape where the safest course of action is to kill anyone you meet rather than speak with them. His actions and decisions make his friends, family and even himself question where the real evil resides, at the ranch or outside of it.
Eddie and Simone are preppers with a survival store in town and a ranch to move to nearby if things get bad where he previously has run free survival classes to teach others from miles around the skills they need. Now he gets word of a zombie plague being caused by faulty injections given to military personnel at their bases and it is spreading out of control. It's time to tell friends and family to pack everything and get to the safety of his ranch before the zombies start showing up in town.
Can I say again how much I HATE having a dramatic spoiler in the prologue concerning events to come? I hate knowing something important in advance then waiting all through the book for events to get to that point. It totally spoils my enjoyment of the book and I always demote a star for it. Just tell the story in order and stop messing about! It gives a confused beginning to the story that could have put me off reading on with it. I don't like time jumping plot device much. I'm not going to say what happens in the spoiler as I don't want to ruin things for other readers, unlike the author.
Anyway after we jump back 8 months in time to the start of the disaster the story finally flows and starts to make sense. Eddie is shutting up the store and only letting his regular customers in to make final purchases before he moves everything to his ranch. He is trying one last time to warn his friends how bad things will get and persuade them to take precautions or move to the ranch with him. Eddie is a complete anti-hero. He has no time for religious fanatics, being an atheist himself, or those who refuse to see the big picture and get ready to deal with it. He is abrasive and rude at times but he is capable and willing to do whatever it takes to save the people he loves. He has faults but for the most part I liked him. I would want an invite to his ranch!
I did find it interesting that people who were calling Eddie a prepper nut including a sneering local journalist were all lined up to buy from his shop when they saw that trouble might be coming! Isn't that so typical. First it's Eddie is a nutter, then they are crying out for his help and not liking the fact that he is no longer prepared to help outsiders-it's time to use those things to protect family and friends. Now he is being accused of being unfeeling for not pandering to them. Gah, I'm with Eddie on this one! Go home the lot of you!
There is a lot of good action in the book. We get the tension of everyone heading to collect family members in town and then going out to the ranch, with a few zombie encounters on the way. Then we get the attacks on the ranch, first by the zombies and then by an armed gang which are really well written and full of action and tension. There are the raids into the town and out to the surrounding areas for supplies. Then Eddie hears about hostages being taken and abused by armed men in a nearby town and he decides that something needs to be done about it. So there is plenty of zombie and other action to enjoy along the way.
Eddie's anti-religion rants do get a bit much sometimes and readers with strong religious leanings might not like him much as a character. You get the impression through Eddie that the author is not much of a believer. Eddie manages to upset his friends with rants about God not existing but at the same time they are also preaching religion to him and trying to convince him that they are right and he is wrong. There are strong religious themes in both books in the series. Eddie is always lecturing those around them but a lot of the time it is because they seem really stupid. Some of them don't even have the brains to drive AWAY from the zombies without Eddie instructing them!
Overall I did like this book. I had small niggles with Eddie at times but I think you are meant to see him as a flawed character, and I did like the way he starts to throw morality out of the way for the safety of the group. I liked that he turns no nonsense as the book progresses. I did like the plot and it was interesting to see the ways the zombies were evolving as the book continued. I have since finished the second book in the series and would be interested in other apocalypse books by the author if he chooses to write them.
Read January 2017.