It seems a little weird to say a book about the end of the world as we know it is a “light read, perfect for your summer list”. Sundered, Bound, and Dauntless by Shannon Mayer are indeed that though. Each book in this series is rather short, around a hundred and twenty pages or so. I’ve noticed that serial fiction novellas seem to be more prevalent and I think it probably has to do with buying trends in e-books. Readers are more likely to spend .99 cents on a book, and two dollars on the following ones, then they are to spend $5.99 on a full length novel. That’s a shame because it means that some books are a little chopped in terms of plot to fit the serial fiction model. These particular books do a good job of creating three stand-alone novels, but I’d urge you to go ahead and buy all three. It’s the price of a couple coffees and you’ll definitely want to read on!
Mara and her husband Sebastian are a young married couple, newly moved to a rural island outside the Vancouver area. Mara is facing depression, having just lost a child to miscarriage after many years of trying to conceive. When she hears about the miracle drug, Nevermore, sweeping the world, she is determined to get the injection. This drug not only cures infertility issues, but prevents a whole host of serious disease and as an added benefit, steps up metabolism to assist in weight loss. Mara races to get the injection, only to be plunged back into depression when she is turned away due to a severe allergy to the main ingredient. Less than two months later, those who took the drug wind up feral , human-devouring zombie-ish monsters. Mara and Sebastian are plunged into a survivalist nightmare trying to fend off the roaming packs and deal with the lack of food, fresh water, and any communication with the outside world. If there even is an outside world anymore. I honestly can’t mention any more of the plot since I want to avoid spoilers, but I did cry at several points, and compromised my sleep schedule to finish the series. Mayer is unafraid to kill off helpless, sympathetic, and even major characters. That’s what makes this a decent zombie series, in spite of the lighter writing style than usually seen in this genre.
Still, Sundered (book one) has a bit of a rocky start. Told in first person narrative, the characters take overly long to worm their way into your heart. Some characters I never cared about the way the author wanted me to, but I did warm up to Mara and her husband, Sebastian. The plot introduction is also a tad awkward and feels forced. Nevermore is just too good to be true, and I can’t imagine a significant number of the population wouldn’t hold back on the vaccine as a precaution. I also wondered how any company could make and distribute billions of inoculations within less than two months when we can’t seem to get enough flu vaccines each year. Ah well, guess I need to work on my suspension-of-disbelief!
Once the plot got rolling, I was hooked. The action comes so fast the reader barely has time to take a breath, and the Nevermores are believable and oddly sympathetic for a mutated species that wants to rip humans to shreds. There are some convenient plot tie ups in the end, but overall a great series with decent writing and a really great premise. Four stars!