Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: Allison Hewitt is Trapped



I first read about Allison Hewitt Is Trapped: A Zombie Novel on Vampifan's blog as part of his regular reviews of all things about zombies.  I've had mixed success with zombie novels, tending to find that prose sometimes struggles to capture the dread I associate with the whole zombie milieu.  But Vampi waxed on about this book and so I thought I would give it a read.

I'm glad I did.  Allison Hewitt is Trapped is written by Madeleine Roux and the story takes the form of a series of blog entries written by the eponymous Allison as she experiences the Zombie Apocalypse (tm).  All the way along I wondered about how the post facto quality of the narrative meant that she would be guaranteed to survive every encounter, but then I realized that they could either go with the "post script written by someone else" option or the "I've been bit and now I'm going to write this before I shoot myself" option, so the drama persisted.

Allison is an employee at a bookstore in a shopping mall in the MidWest when the zombies first appear, and she and several co-workers secure themselves in a saferoom in the back of the store.  They are armed with only a baseball bat and a fire axe that Allison seizes as her own personal weapon for the majority of the book.  The narrative doesn't stay there, however, and in fact the book rarely settles into any location for the long haul, not to mention cycling many characters in and out of the story, some coming to a grisly end.

Like most good zombie stories, the focus isn't on gray hands reaching out of nowhere, but rather on the human condition, and in fact it is starvation, disease, and aberrant human behavior that pose the greatest threat throughout the novel.  There are the usual gangs of violent men, religious fanatics, and unscrupulous characters that appear in many of these stories, but there's also a very good treatment on the transformation of real relationships: friends, boyfriends, spouses, children, etc. that occur under extreme pressure.  As a first person story there's a lot about her own emotional state the roller coaster that finding oneself in the middle of the collapse of society can place can do.

So it's a clever, witty, and features a compelling main character.  As Vampi pointed out one of the side character's death is really poorly done, largely for shock value but also places a huge continuity hole in the plot of the story that never gets sewn shut, but that's really minor in comparison to a larger, very well written work.  Apparently there are other "girl zombie blog" novels by Roux in the works, so I'll have to keep my eye out for them.

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