Review: Last Bastion of the Living

Title: Last Bastion of the Living
Author: Rhiannon Frater
Genre: Dystopian
Length: 375 pages
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: June 12th, 2012
Rating: 4.5 Stars

A walled city surrounded by lush land, protected by high mountain summits, and fortified by a massive gate to secure the only pass into the valley, The Bastion remained humanity’s last hope against the fearsome undead creatures known as the Inferi Scourge. On one fateful day, the valley gate failed and the Inferi Scourge overran and destroyed the human settlements outside the walls, trapping the remaining survivors inside the city. Now, decades later, the last remaining humans are struggling to survive in a dying city of dwindling resources…and dwindling hope.

Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her entire life within the towering walls of steel. She yearns for a life away from the overcrowded streets, rolling blackouts, and food shortages, but there is no hope for anyone as long as the Inferi Scourge howl outside the high walls. Her only refuge from the daily grind is in the arms of Dwayne Reichardt, an officer in the Bastion Constabulary. Both are highly-decorated veterans of the last disastrous push against the Inferi Scourge. Their secret affair is her only happiness.

Then one day Maria is summoned to meet with a mysterious representative from the Science Warfare Division and is offered the opportunity to finally destroy the Inferi Scourge in the valley and close the gate, reclaiming the lost lands and energizing the populace with renewed hope for the future. The rewards of success are great, but she will have to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to accomplish the ultimate goal of securing the future of humanity and saving it from extinction.

Review:

Last weekend I tucked in with Last Bastion of the Living for Fraterfest and all I could think the entire time I was reading it was ‘How did I wait so long to read this book?’ Last Bastion was obscenely good. Now, I’m a big fan of Rhiannon Frater, and I loved the As the World Dies series, but Last Bastion of the Living was so much better. I freaking loved this book!  And while I respect the stand alone novel, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t wishing for more!

What’s so great about it? Nearly everything–the word building, the zombies, the heroine, Maria, who was smart, tough, and completely kick-ass. Last Bastion is fast paced and action packed with just the right amount of romance to add to the storyline. I’m not usually a fan of anything too close to science fiction, but I was enamored with the world Frater built. As she described life in the Bastion, I could easily imagine the crowded streets, defunct transport systems, and the oppressive despair. Heck, I think I could even imagine the smell of the highly seasoned protein lumps meant to sustain the sparse population.

I also happen to be an action junkie so the rapid pace and continuously evolving story had me hooked. Every time I thought I had things figured out, the storyline shifted revealing more lies and deceit. This story- and the zombies- bore virtually no resemblance to the zombies of the As the World Dies trilogy, for which I commend Frater. I love that she took an entirely different route here and created another fantastic story! Throughout, I found myself pulling for Maria and her squad despite the impossible odds. I desperately wanted to see them succeed and couldn’t put Last Bastion down.

The only reason I didn’t give this book the full five stars?  The back story on the creation of the zombies. Now, it’s just a blip on the radar and only gets a passing mention, but I just couldn’t buy it- at all. Personally, I would have preferred the mysterious Inferi Scourge virus went unexplained in lieu of the truth, but that’s just me.

Overall, exactly what you expect from Rhiannon Frater: action, suspense and Texans! An amazing and original read, highly recommended for zombie fans! Treat yourself this Halloween… You won’t regret it!

Review: Fighting to Survive

 

DESCRIPTION

Picking up where The First Days ends, Fighting to Survive features the further zombie-killing, civilization-saving adventures of a pair of sexy, kick butt heroines and the men who love them. A hundred or so survivors of the zombie plague have found tenuous safety in the walled off center of a small Texas town. Now the hard work of survival begins—finding enough food; creating safe, weather-resistant shelter; establishing laws; and fighting off both the undead who want to eat them and the living bandits who want to rob and kill them.

REVIEW

Zombies, and bandits, and death. Oh, my. Seriously though– Be still my beating heart. I LOVED this book despite the fact that it gave me nightmares, raised my blood pressure, and caused me more than just a little discomfort. Although I tend to be a bit Scrooge-like when it comes to handing out ratings, I can’t deny Rhiannon Frater 5 stars for Fighting to Survive, book two in the As the World Dies series.

While I enjoyed The First Days, Fighting to Survive surpasses its predecessor in creepiness, chills and downright desperate behavior. Katie and Jenni return just as tough and determined in book two as they work with the other survivors to create a more comfortable and sustainable environment within the fort. In addition to facing the obvious challenges, the women are forced to face the ghosts of their pasts, the grief of losing their loved ones, and the guilt that comes with survival. Despite the relative protection of the fort and the stability it provides, Fighting to Survive is an emotional rollercoaster and still manages to move at a breakneck pace. I couldn’t put it down because I just had to know what was going to happen next. In fact, I read so late into the night that I dreamt of zombies and other more terrifying creatures– desperate men.

The most disturbing part of this book also happens to one of the reasons I gave it a 5 star rating. Frater isn’t afraid to explore the darkest side of human nature and is quite in your face about the level of depravity among desperate, lawless men. Calling them bandits makes these heinous creatures sound almost human. I assure you they are not. And yet, I have no doubt that in a world gone to hell, zombies would be only one of the monsters to fear.

Fighting to Survive is truly a tale of survival. It’s not just about running endlessly from zombies or bashing in their heads, but of taking what joy you can from life and making the hard choices that no one else can or will. Filled with strong, endearing (and sometimes downright loca) characters, Fighting to survive will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Definitely a must read for fans of all things zombie!