A Journey Through Dante's Inferno with a Shambling Twist...
The world ended on a Thursday.
In one day, the world succumbed to a pestilence that decimated the living. In its place rose a new species: vicious, gruesome, wandering monsters with an insatiable hunger for the living. There is no government, no shelter.
Still in her twenties, Cash has watched her friends die, only to walk again. An office worker with few survival skills, she joins up with Clutch, a grizzled Army veteran with PTSD. Together, they flee the city and struggle through the nine circles of hell, with nothing but Clutch’s military experience and Cash’s determination to live. As they fight to survive in the zombie inferno, they quickly discover that nowhere is safe from the undead… or the living.
This is the beginning after the end.
Find Rachel Aukes
If someone would have told me 6 months ago, when I started this blog, that I would one day be reviewing horror/zombie novels, I would have laughed in their faces. That's one genre, I never imagined getting involved with. I've never seen an episode of The Walking Dead and the aside from watching World War Z, the only experiences I had ever had with zombies were the Inferi in Harry Potter. I'm not even kidding. Zombies did not interest me in the least bit. I never would have thought I would actually be scared reading a book about them. And then I met Rachel Aukes. I can officially say my life has been turned upside down.
To say that Aukes is a good story teller would be an insult to 100 Days in Deadland. Aukes takes storytelling to a level far beyond merely "good". I say I never thought a book about zombies would scare me? Never say never. There were times when I literally had to stop reading. It was that good. I've read Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and others, but never before has a novel struck me the way this one did. Aukes is a true master of horror. Not only did 100 Days in Deadland scare me at times, it was also extremely emotional on the other end of the spectrum. There were moments of comedy, moments of true happiness (like I would actually smile when reading those little rays of sunshine), and extreme emotional devastation. I will be honest and admit upfront that I even teared up at one part of the book. The emotions were strong in this one. I'm telling you readers, I was on a anxious, nervous, and extremely excited to turn each and every page.
Aukes starts the action out on page one and it does let up the entire time. This novel literally did not have a lull in action. My Nook version had 260 pages, but Amazon claims the page count is over 400. This is not a "one sitting" read. It'll take you awhile to process this one, but hard part is finding an appropriate place to stop. I had the hardest time putting this read down. In fact, last night I had finished a little less than half of the novel when I started reading. I finished it. I seriously could not stop reading. I stayed up until nearly 5am finishing this novel. Folks, I love my sleep. This should be a pretty good indication that we have a good read on out hands here.
Dante's Inferno has always been a favorite of mine. I remember reading it in high school and I oftentimes find myself relating works and quotes back to it today. It is amazing story and one that I would have never thought of modernizing, especially with zombies. Aukes' Deadland is an awesome updated adaptation of Inferno, labeling each section of the book in accordance to one of the levels of hell Dante encounters with his guide, Virgil. This book deserves all the praise it can get, in fact, I think high school English courses should teach both novels, who wouldn't love to read this in class? (Totally kidding)
Aukes' characters in Deadland are some of the most interesting I have ever read. Mia, or Cash, our MC starts out as a regular old pencil pusher at her business firm in Des Moines, but transforms into not only a survivor, but a warrior by the end of the novel. She faces so many hardships and losses, I can't imagine ever living the way she does. Her character development was an amazing journey to read. Clutch, our MMC was also a great character to read. Although he doesn't really change over the course of the novel, we learn about him in a way that our views drastically change from page to page. It really was incredible. My favorite character in this read was the third "MC", Jase. Jase has one of the most emotionally gripping storylines in the novel, in my opinion. We see his transformation just as closely as we see Cash's. Jase has a twist that I won't spoil for any interested readers, but it is part of his storyline that made me tear up. It was rough. I cannot wait to see what the next book in the series has for these three characters. There is a rather large supporting cast in this novel, but these three are the ones who really made the story for me.
I want to add something about villanious aspect of this book. It's so interesting when you read a zombie book, because you don't really need a villain. The "zeds" are the villain. It's remarkable how en element in a story can become the villain. Aukes' didn't stop there though, she gave us a villain who we could really hate. One who was just about as ruthless as they come. A villain who was just as horrifying as the storyline! THAT is an incredible feat!
I have all kinds of things I could say about this read, but I think I can just keep it at this and only add this: I have read more books than I could count this year and reviewed just as many. Each of those books spoke to me in a way that made me enjoy them (at least enough to finish), but few have had the effect and left a profounding book-hangover as 100 Days in Deadland has! That being said, 5 stars is not high enough for my rating, so let's just call this book "damn-near perfect". I am giving 100 Days in Deadland a 5+ Star Review. Trust me readers, you will not be disappointed in this read. Even if you, like me, think you aren't a zombie fan, try this one out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!