Written by: Tim Meyer
Zombies have taken over. They’ve invaded our television sets, filled the pages of our books, showed up every week at the movie theater, and are even waiting for us in the comic book shops. They’re everywhere, man. And while some horror fans are ready to watch the trend take one between the eyes, others are patiently waiting for the next epic zombie masterpiece, the one that separates itself from the rest of the insatiable horde.
Sadly, 100 Days in Deadland isn’t that masterpiece. Conversely, it’s not a bad slice of fiction. For me, I’d rank it somewhere in the middle. It had some fun moments, but ultimately fell victim to the same snag that gets most zombie fiction nowadays—repetitiveness.
The book follows a young woman named Cash as she tries to survive the zombie apocalypse in rural Iowa. She gets help from an ex-military solider who goes by the name of Clutch. He rescues her, provides her shelter, and nurtures her survival skills. Together, along with a teenage boy, Jase, they try to protect Clutch’s reclusive home from zombies (zeds as they’re called here) and a group of heartless men calling themselves militia, a plot that vaguely reminds me of 28 Days Later.
One thing that bothered me was the tagline; A journey through Dante’s Inferno with a shambling twist. Initially I found myself intrigued, but as I started reading, I found myself slightly confused. Other than the references in the chapter titles and a few random lines thrown in here and there, the parallels are quite a reach. I believe any and all references to Dante’s epic poem probably would have been better left at the curb, because it creates an expectation that the novel doesn’t really meet. However, the author breaks down these references chapter by chapter in the afterword for those less familiar with Dante’s work.
On a positive note, the book was written well, accompanied by great editing. Cash is a likeable character, an everyday office worker who the reader will want to take the journey with. Too many zombie stories often have a weak cast of one-dimensional characters that offer little or no value, relying too heavily on the zombie aspect. This book tends to avoid that trap, putting its characters at the core, making them the focus. The book has plenty of action and zombie kills while staying true to what makes zombie-apocalypse novels a pleasurable reading experience—focusing on moral conundrums and examining the human condition in survival mode.
Rachel Aukes has a reader-friendly writing style and I’m sure she will produce some excellent material in the future. If you haven’t read this title yet and are interested in any zombie tale you can get your paws on, I’d say give it a try. It’s a little long and can bog you down with its repetitive nature, but there are worse zombie books out there. This one is interesting enough to hold your attention throughout.