Author: Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.
To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.
But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.
When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?
Sloane is not a character that makes me adore her because she's so [insert adjective for something awesome like nice/funny/smart/strong/snarky here]. But she is very real, and I like that about her. She's not looking for a reason to live. She's looking for a way to die that won't jeopardize the lives of her zombie apocalypse companions. She has to make a lot of decisions, some admirable and some not so much. She's in a world where holding on to your values will get you and the people you care about killed. There are times when it comes down to deciding who one cares more about, who is valuable, who is a liability. Some of it is split-second decision, but some of it is calculated. Everyone in this story has some amount of horrible in them that is brought out when situations become life or death. All of these characters are simultaneously terrible and decent. They all say and do things that they'd probably never say or do in a normal situation. They're selfish. They're self-preserving. They've had to make tough choices, sometimes at the expense of others, in order to keep themselves alive. The precedent for this line of decision making is set even before the zombies show up, via Sloane's sister. But when it's life or death, is that not understandable? These characters, dwelling in their gray areas, captivated me with their harshness.
The pacing is not as quick as one would expect a book with zombies to be. The characters are barricaded in a school for the majority of the story, and there just isn't much to do. It involves a lot of reflection, a few scary situations, and a lot of arguing and slinging blame and accusations and confessions. But it was still a really quick read, because I became so engrossed in the human nature of it all. The ending, I'll admit, is something that might bother me in another type of book, but for this one it felt like the perfect place to end the story, and I liked it.
I really, really adored this book, and the only reason I docked it a half star is because I would've liked just a little bit more presence where the zombies were concerned. I'd recommend it to fans of Courtney Summers and gritty contemporary fiction. If you're in it for the zombies, you might be disappointed at the lack of face-biting. But, if you can appreciate the more psychological parts of a zombie apocalypse, then you would probably still enjoy this book a great deal.