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Radiant Shadows

Zombie Love: The Outbreak

Zombie Love: The Outbreak - Eric J. Sobolik Zombie Love was a fast-paced fun read. Though there were definitely moments where I was completely baffled by a strangely-placed daydream, or thrown for a loop by the protagonists thought process, I caught myself laughing during several scenes (which caught me completely off guard!) and unable to put it down.The prologue, though short, completely sucked me in. With lines like this:"Sam hoped he wasn't dead if only because he did not want to have to replace yet another lab assistant...But he didn't care much.He could just bring the boy back to life if he wanted."how couldn't I want to keep reading?! From Sam we learn that he has found a way to reanimate the dead, but that what he thought was a controlled scientific experiment has evolved into a virus. A virus that is looking to escape the confines of its prison.But before the virus escapes, we meet Daniel. Average-looking, average-student, average-class Daniel. With nothing that he believes is remarkable about himself, Daniel spends his time daydreaming of his next-door-neighbour Summer, as he's too afraid of rejection to actually speak to her. It was refreshing to see a YA male protagonist show insecurities, and I felt like I could actually relate to Daniel: he worried that his thoughts about Summer were dirty, he wished he was in better shape so she might notice him and he avoided taking the bus after sharing a kiss with her that he thought she was embarrassed about. Summer was also refreshing for a YA female protagonist - she too had insecurities, for some of the same reasons as Daniel, but she didn't let them define her.My big issue with Summer and Daniel, as is my issue with most YA novels, was the insta-love. Having just been saved by Daniel from the now-infected Sam, Summer decides:"...the feelings they had for each other had swelled to love. You don't go through something like this with another person you care about and not fall in love. She could see it in the way he looked at her, when he finally stopped looking at the corpse. They were in love, and now was the time for Summer to show it."Now, prior to this was an explanation as to why Summer and Daniel had avoided each other, even though they were next-door neighbours. Sobolik actually compares it to a Capulet-Montague situation, where because the parents have decided to dislike each other, their children must do the same. He also alludes to both of them harbouring feelings for the other, from afar. But the jump from a crush on someone you don't know, to love because they just saved your life was a little too much for me - I just didn't believe it, not only because Summer had to tell me they were in love, but because I just didn't feel the chemistry between them. This declaration of love also leads to the dumbest action by either Daniel or Summer in the entire book - standing next to the "dead" corpse of an infected person, they share their first real kiss. So caught up in the moment, neither of them notices the corpse moving towards Daniel until it's too late - and he's bitten.Summer now has to decide which course of action to take - she can kill Daniel once he reanimates, or she can tie him to a tree with some rope in the hopes a vaccination is created in time to save his life. Now all of this would be fine, except the government has swept in to town, in the hopes of completely eradicating the virus and any who are infected. Any mention of the outbreak in the media is silenced before it can be aired, anyone who tries to harbour an infected loved one is removed from town, never to be seen from again and it's not long before Daniel's disappearance is noticed. This became a major plot hole for me. Summer felt she (and Daniel who she had hid in the woods in case you didn't guess that!) were safe, as she had next-to-no contact with Daniel prior to his disappearance - which makes complete sense. Why would they question her about someone who she didn't speak to? What I didn't understand was how a government agency, who wasn't above killing innocent people in order to keep the outbreak a secret, wouldn't think to comb the woods behind the area with the outbreak. If they were serious enough to control the media coverage, then they would have had entire search teams looking for anyone who might be infected - including any missing persons, like Daniel.The rest of the book is spent watching Summer try and hide Daniel from her parents and the government. It's not long before they come knocking on her door, and trouble ensues. I won't get in to too many details, as I don't want to spoil anything, but it's during these moments when Summer starts to grow on me. Her dedication to protecting Daniel (even though I didn't understand her strong feelings) was admirable and she made a lot of smart choices - I didn't spend a lot of time cursing her for making the wrong decision, which again, was very refreshing.Having said all that, there were a few stylistic choices that I need to address. The third-person narrative took some getting used to, especially since the narrator changed several times. I also found that, while quirky and funny in some situations, the constant day-dreaming from almost all of the characters was strange - it was almost like I was privy to every thought that passed through their mind, and sometimes I was left asking what was the point. I found the time-jumping to be a bit disorienting, as the narrative was back-tracked to show the story from a different character's point-of-view, and I found that there were a couple things mentioned that seemed contradictory. For example, when explaining why Summer and Daniel's parents disliked each other, Sobolik describes Summer's mother as someone who was "living for her child" - and makes a point to show us how attentive Jeannie was to her daughter. Later, however, Jeannie is described as someone who secretly hopes for a more interesting life and then wonders (hopes) if:"...perhaps Summer would be scarred for life; becoming some sort of deranged monster that relished the sight of the dead and could possibly become a murderer, or worse, a funeral home director."Those two explanations of Jeannie just don't make sense to me, as they seem to be describing two very different people. But above all, I feel like Zombie Love was too short - I didn't get a chance to become invested in any of the characters, as there was too much action happening to watch them develop.By the end of Zombie Love I was pretty confused about how I felt. On the one hand, I really enjoyed the witty humour and the third-person narration really grew on me. I also really enjoyed some of the more comedic moments, and that it was a quick read with no mind-boggling plot to wrap my head around. On the other, there were a couple of plot holes that really didn't sit well with me, and some underdeveloped characters that I was interested in watching, but not overly invested in. I am interested to see how this series progresses though, and I would definitely be interested in reading the sequel!Originally published on my blog, Radiant Shadows