Last year I downloaded a free short called Great Bitten (review here) and just lapped it up. Loved it so much. I read a lot of zombie books but I especially love the one's set in the UK, as this one is. Makes it all seem more real, somehow. Well, as real as zombie's taking over the world can get. The Great Bitten short has been added to Outbreak to form the first part of the story so if you haven't already read the short you won't be missing anything by starting straight into this one.
Anyway, I waited impatiently for the full story and finally it was published (with a Halloween release date) and I snapped it up and dove in. Was it worth waiting for? Yep.
Now, I'm not a zombie fan, per say...I'm more of an End-Of-The-World fan. Doesn't really matter how it ends, just that it DOES end. Zombie's pretty much guarantee that it's game over for the world so I'm really partial to a zombie book now and then.
Warren (the narrator) is a journalist and a bit full of himself but I like him. He manages to get a little head start on everyone else when he figures out early that a zombie plague is upon them and the first half of the story is taken up with his journey to reach his sister's house. In true zombie survivalist tradition Warren and his little band gather a few more survivors into the group before finally reaching what they hope will be a stronghold...
Mostly I like reading about how the survivors...well, survive. I like to know how they get by, day to day. It's the 'how' more than the 'why' that interests me. I like reading about the zombies too but they either have to be really, really scary and I'm terrified witless for the survivors, or the zombies need to be there but in the background mostly so that the story focuses more on the survivors and how they deal with a hostile world and fight for survival.
Great Britten fell a little between these lines for me. The zombies were a bit scary (especially the fast ones) and the survivors' stories were more about group dynamics but there was enough of what I like to keep me flipping pages to see where it was all going. Add in a twist or two and it makes for a good story.
I really liked the explanation for the different types of zombie. The reason's for Fast v's Slow had me thinking "yeah, that sounds likely" and both kinds were dangerous for different reasons.
Towards the end there were quite a few characters to try and keep straight in my head but the one's that mattered were fleshed out and the ending left enough open that maybe we'll find out more about those other characters in later books. I think there are to be side stories too that deal with some of the lesser characters in the book and will tell their stories and I'm REALLY looking forward to those. Those one's sound exactly the sort of thing that I lap up.
One thing bugged me though. It might not hinder anyone else but if there's one thing that's guaranteed to pull me out of a story, it's this - I hate any mention of what I think of as 'my world realities'. I really don't like to read about characters in a book who have watched actual films I've watched, or know which song's are popular in my world, or describe someone in terms of someone famous' appearance that I may or may not have seen/know. Pulls me right out of the story because then I'm thinking about the movie mentioned or the song or the person...just personal preference but I really don't like my fictional zombie story characters having anything to do with my reality. Apart from anything else, sometimes I have no clue what the reference is as I haven't heard it, seen it, tasted it, used it, etc, so it's lost on me and I get nothing from it. There was quite a lot of it here.
All in all though it was a great story and for a first book in a series there are so many directions it can go. I'm looking forward to seeing where Warren ends up next and with the twist at the end it of this one it'll be somewhere dangerous, no doubt!