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The First Days: As the World Dies by Rhiannon Frater
Cover Artist: Photos by Getty Images and Jupiterimages
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Books Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765331267
Date: 05 July 2011 List Price $14.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Texas housewife Jenni awakens to watch in horror her abusive husband Lloyd eating their three years old baby Benjamin; their other son twelve year old Mikey was already turned. As tiny fingers try to grab the door open to get at Jenni, a driver yells at her to get into her car. Katie the lawyer was on her way to work when she was almost bitten. Neither are aware that a zombie plague has assaulted the world. As Katie runs over the monsters, Jenni is glad she hooked up with a strong woman.

The pair stock up on guns, ammo, food and other supplies as they flee the city. In a small town, the two women meet Ralph and Nerit, who offer shelter. From the abode's roof, each shoots zombies. They remain with the elderly couple until they feel they should search for Jenni's stepson Jason who was at camp. Fighting zombies all the way to the camp, they rescue Jason. Their drive takes them through towns filled with zombies until the trio reaches Ashley Oaks, a place where high fortifications are being built and supplies are plentiful; as the zombies have become smarter. Inside the guarded village, the residents are on edge in spite of their leader Travis keeping them safe.

The two female protagonists come into the fray from diverse backgrounds as one is a professional and the other a stay at home mom; but though both contain flaws and doubts, they becomes strong sisters surviving the worst of the chaotic First Days As the World Dies. The human support cast from the elderly couple to the stepson to Travis and other townsfolk enhance the level of the plight of the two women and how desperate Texas has become. There are plenty of graveyard jokes and amusing asides, which are survivor techniques to deal with the gloom and doom they face s well as the loss of loved ones.

The zombie virus provides plenty of action especially the George Romero early types who are thoughtless monsters, but as these undead "live", they are becoming increasingly sophisticated and clever with their attacks. The low hanging fruits are becoming scarce so "necessity is the mother of invention". However, this is more than the first book in another Z thriller. Instead, Rhiannon Frater provides a zombification of Nevil Shute's On the Beach with the collapse of civilization as Jenni and Katie knew it. This is a must read for fans of horror with a bit of a twist.

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