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I consider myself a zombie snob. I have read many zombie stories, so it takes a lot to impress me. For a zombie story to stand out from the crowd, it must do something special. That's exactly what Never-DEAD does. As much to my astonishment as to my joy, Never-DEAD is a head scratcher of a tale and delivers in a big way. You can call it a brilliant piece of zombie fiction or marvelous storytelling and you’ll be right every time.
The book starts off with a gut-punching first chapter where the action takes place on a plane where passengers turn into undead creatures who crave human flesh which causes the plane to crash in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. You get more and more into the book until that gasp out loud, “A-Ha” moment where everything falls into place in the right way, at the right time, as if by magic for a fantastic finale that's guaranteed to bring on all the feelings and make you ugly cry. If it is at all possible for a zombie apocalypse novel to be moving, then this is it!
Never-DEAD is big zombie fun thanks in a large part to the charismatic, on-the-edge character of Hannah Winter who makes me laugh out loud even as she guides the reader through a zombie pandemic. Hannah proves her awesomeness early on and never loses it, keeping my interest the whole time. The depth of her character, her feelings and thoughts, makes me feel like I know her.
The smell of rotting corpses is in the air and Jenna Winter can’t stand it. Escaping from zombies is a hard way of living for the nineteen-year old main protagonist, who starts off in San Antonio, Texas. You’ll witness Jenna’s evolution from a crash course in survival on the road she travels to Dulce, New Mexico to hole up with her sister Hannah in the Biogenetics & Disease Control underground facility. You feel Jenna’s panic as she wrestles with the horrors by crying a lot, smoking cigarettes incessantly, praying more to God, and doubting herself – what you expect of her in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The fact that Ann Greyson so effortlessly dredges up the dread that festers below the surface of her characters is simply an example of her writing expertise. You can’t help but fear for Jenna, and yet at the same time want her to build up her courage and take risks. That is a big part of what makes Never-DEAD so powerful — the emergence of Jenna Winter’s inner strength and sense of self, juxtaposed with the danger of interacting with zombies that can appear at any moment from around any corner.
Though likely not recognizable by the average reader, Ann Greyson does an excellent job of bringing the Texas cities of San Antonio and Amarillo to life and capturing their personality through descriptions of the neighborhoods that Jenna Winter travels through.
Ann Greyson’s first book and it was phenomenal! I want to read another book by her. She has the potential of becoming one of my favorites, because of Never-DEAD that has the potential to make her a household name.
(Reviewed by Rachel Wilcox for BookShout)