Monday, April 13, 2015

Deadland Rising by Rachel Aukes Review

Hey readers! Big release day today! I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this one and I read the entire thing in two sittings. SUCH an incredible novel! What am I raving about? Deadland Rising, the final book in Rachel Aukes' incredible Deadland Saga. Here's a bit about the book and our author before we get to my thoughts!

The search for hope in a shambling world...

Winter has arrived. 
It has been nearly one year since the zombie hordes claimed the world. As the plague eats away at its victims’ bodies, the Fox survivors search for a safe place to rebuild what they have lost. But a dangerous new threat has risen, hunting them from every direction. To survive, Cash, Clutch, and their small band of refugees must put their faith in a group of strangers and a new government with radical plans. It will take all of the Fox survivors’ strength and courage to endure in this barren, hostile world. Even that might not be enough.

(Deadland Rising is a journey through Dante Alighieri's Paradiso, the classic tale on the seven virtues… zombie apocalypse style!)

Rachel Aukes

Rachel Aukes is the international bestselling author of 100 Days in Deadland, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Suspense Magazine and one of the best zombie books by the Huffington Post. She also writes romantic science fiction and fantasy under the pen name Berinn Rae, which includes the RWA award-winning short story "Stealing Fate," a USA Today recommended read. Rachel lives in Iowa with her husband and an incredibly spoiled sixty-pound lap dog. When not writing, she can be found flying old airplanes and trying (not so successfully) to prepare for the zombie apocalypse.  


Find Rachel Aukes

My Thoughts:

"Believe me, if I could change the past, there'd be plenty I would do differently. But I can't, and you can't either. We have to accept things as we see them and keep on living."
                                                                              -Clutch, Deadland Rising P. 52

At the beginning of my other two reviews for this series, I felt the need to explain to my readers that I am generally not a fan of the horror genre. I don't like horror, I deplore zombies, and I don't handle suspense well. Well folks. I'm not even going to write that anymore, because that would be a complete lie. Thank Rachel Aukes, you've ruined horror for me! No longer do I fear the unknowns of the literary world. No longer do I mock zombies, Rachel Aukes has made me a believer.

Going into this novel was one of the most bittersweet experiences I have had as a blogger. As anyone who read my other two reviews and read my year end recap could tell you, this was one of my most anticipated reads of 2015, so of course I was pumped to check it out. On the flip side, I knew this would be my final adventure alongside the characters I had grown so incredibly close to. 400 pages to see if these heroes would live, die, or even become the living dead themselves. Emotions ran high, but I knew with Rachel Aukes at the helm, I would not be disappointed.

I'll just flat out tell you now that if today was the final day of 2015, Deadland Rising would be among my top reads of the year. I was expecting a whole lot out of this novel and, thankfully, Rachel Aukes did not disappoint, not even a little.

In true Rachel Aukes fashion, this entire novel was very fast paced. Picking up mere days after the second novel, we find our characters in quite the conundrum. Making their way across the plains of the Midwest in search of New Eden, their promised paradise and home to other survivors of the zombie apocalypse, proves to be more of a journey than anticipated. It's been nine months since the infection spread rampant across society, resulting in massive casualties and complete breakdown of modern civilization. What remains of the government bombed the metropolitan centers of the US in an effort to kill the infection, killing any possible survivors as well. With the plummeting temperatures of winter quickly taking over, the zeds have migrated south towards warmer temperatures. Those that remain are slow, sluggish, and stand like statues on the frozen plains. While the number of zeds may have decreased, Cash, Clutch, Jase, and the gang must fight off bandits and bands of rabid angry dogs to make their way to New Eden before winter stops them in their tracks. 

The plot line to this novel is a little more defined that its' predecessors. Unlike the other two stories where the only plot was 'survive', out gang has a mission now. It's a big change of pace from the other two stories where you never know what may happen next, though this novel is full of the unexpected. In true form for a conclusion, Rachel Aukes makes sure to tie up all loose ends. By the time you close your cover, you know whats happened to most all characters. Those that haven't been killed, that is. I'm not going to spoil the ending for anyone, but I can tell you that I was pleased. Immensely. The story wraps up in a way that says "yes, this is the end of the story, but you never know what the future may hold'. Rebuilding society won't happen overnight, but the reader is left with hope for a better tomorrow.

This series has a huge cast of characters. Unfortunately many of them do not make it to the end, but Rachel gives us so many new ones to fill their place. Even though this is a final novel in the series, we are still introduced to a dozen or so new characters that really help to move the story to its' conclusion. New survivors, new doctors, new politicians, new enemies, friends, and animals, will have to work together to survive the end of days in this amazing conclusion. With such a large cast, one may wonder how everyone gets their time to shine. I will admit that I would have liked to have seen more from some characters and less from others, but in the end, this first person POV is told from Cash, who narrates the series to perfection. Seeing the world through her eyes is truly a treat. All of my favorite characters play huge roles in the novel: Clutch, Cash, Jase, Hali, Benji, Griz, and so many more. 

I'm not going to lie to you guys. In true Rachel Aukes fashion, not every character will make it to the end. There will be feels people. Let's just hope you fight them off better than I did. Oh man, I caught those feels hardcore.

The world isn't the same after the outbreak, but Aukes does a great job with her settings in the story. Everything is described in vivid detail, giving this entire series the feel of a motion picture. It isn't hard for me to close my eyes and picture everything as it happens. With the inclusion of some new vernacular and a whole new government, Aukes paints the picture of the future of the Americas where Northern Mexico, the US, and Canada have combined forces into one major state. This picture is far from complete, but gives the reader great insight to what the future may bring.

I'd also like to take note of the level of accuracy that Aukes has included in this series. A world without electricity, running water, human maintenance is a scary thought. Many things such as the breakdown in gasoline chemicals (rendering it useless after time) never occurred to me, yet Aukes made sure to include it anyway. Of all the apocalyptic novels I have read, this one is my far the most realistic and I give huge props to Aukes for that.  

With this series, Rachel Aukes set out to tell a gripping horror story against the backdrop of Dante Alighieri's Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Aukes is no casual author, she meticulously analyzed Alighieri's groundbreaking and timeless tale in order to craft her story. Everything is there, from hell to paradise, Rachel Aukes did an incredible job. I have seen authors attempt this in the past with horrendous results, but as a huge fan of the Divine Comedy myself, I can say that Rachel Aukes definitely does it justice. I am confident that Alighieri would be a fan himself, that is, if he weren't stuck back in the thirteenth century. 

As you can see, I was a huge fan of this final installment of the Deadland Saga. From page one of 100 Days in Deadland, I knew this was going to be a special series. Never once did I read anything in these novels that I wanted to change. Each death served a vital purpose, ever downfall was necessary, and every small victory made my heart soar. Rachel Aukes delivered a stronger punch in her final novel than I even thought was possible. When closing the back cover, I wasn't left with sadness. I wasn't left with regret, fear, or anxiety. I was left with hope. Hope that our world could possibly overcome our difference and come together to form a better society for us all. 

It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that I am granting Deadland Rising by Rachel Aukes a near-perfect 5-star review. Of all my reads, I'm not sure one has ever taken me on quite the journey as this one has. Huge kudos to you Mrs. Rachel Aukes, you truly are the "Queen of Scream". I cannot wait to see what we can expect from you next. 

Click the covers below to see my five star reviews of the first two novels in the Deadland Saga!


I'll be honest and tell you guys that I have no idea what Rachel Aukes has up her sleeve next. More paranormal? More horror? I couldn't tell you, but what I do know is that through this series Rachel Aukes taught me so much about the book world. I learned through her that horror novels are about so much more than gore and being on the edge of your seat. The scariest things in life are the thoughts that your life as you know it may cease to exist one day. Would we be able to survive? Rachel poses some incredible questions with this series and always has left me with more thoughts than a book usually does. It is due to her in depth analysis of not only classical literature, but also the human psyche, that Rachel Aukes will forever remain a favorite author of mine. She just 'gets' it, ya know?

While it is with great sadness that I post this about this final novel in the Deadland Saga, it is with a warm heart that I say a huge thank you and congratulations to the author, Mrs. Rachel Aukes. Thank you for supplying the bookish world with hope, with fear, with a better outlook on the human experience. Thank you Rachel Aukes, this series will forever made an impression on my bookish heart and soul! I look forward to our next incredible adventure together!

Special thanks to Rachel Aukes for supplying me with a copy of this novel and for being such a great friend and supporter. 

What do you guys think? Sound like the novel for you? Sound off in the comments below and don't forget to grab your copy!

Until next time, Happy Reading!


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