The morning that the world ends, Katie is getting ready for court and housewife Jenni is taking care of her family. Less than two hours later, they are fleeing for their lives from a zombie horde.
Thrown together by circumstance, Jenni and Katie become a powerful zombie-killing partnership, mowing down zombies as they rescue Jenni’s stepson, Jason, from an infected campground.
They find sanctuary in a tiny, roughly fortified Texas town. There Jenni and Katie find they are both attracted to Travis, leader of the survivors; and the refugees must slaughter people they know, who have returned in zombie form. .
Here’s the thing…. I’m a zombie lover at heart. My favorite movie of all time is Resident Evil and one of the few movies I’ve actually purchased in the last couple of years was Zombieland. So I was probably predisposed to loving this book. It’s even possible that I am also so desensitized to the walking dead that the haunting opening didn’t exactly phase me. It actually made me sit up and say ‘YES!’ because it felt authentic.
Frater opens the tale with a heart-wrenching scene: little toddler zombie fingers clawing frantically under the door in an attempt to reach the intended prey. Imagine your own child a zombie monster, hungry to devour your flesh. Gruesome. Painful. Shocking. This is how Jenni’s day starts. As her world falls to pieces and she slips into shock, Jenni is rescued by Katie, another survivor of the zombie apocalypse. Like Jenni, in a few short hours Katie’s lost all she holds dear. The world around them is changing at a breakneck pace and the women quickly realize they have two options: adapt or die. Chance may have thrown these women together, but they make an amazing team and the bond between them quickly grows to be iron tight. It’s this relationship that made the book for me. Katie and Jenni complement one another and are a force to be reckoned with.
The First Days is an edge of your seat, action-packed thrill ride. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. At the same time, the characters were well developed and their stories were so compelling that putting this book down was not an option. I had expected an action junkies dream in The First Days, but was pleased to discover that the story was so much more. These characters had to deal not only with the end of the world, but with their own personal baggage which included everything from grief, guilt, and the social stigmas of a world left behind to killing without a moments’ hesitation.
Jenni and Katie’s toughness is balanced with compassion, although it is not always evident and there are more than a few times where it seems Jenni might have become completely unhinged. Still, it’s impossible not to want to see these women overcome and flourish in the new world, assuming they can survive. The First Days is wrought with heartache and pain, but there are also moments of great humanity. After all, life must go on.
My biggest disappointment? Book two, Fighting to Survive, won’t be released until November 5, 2011.