If you haven't checked out my review of Adam Gallardo's first 'Zombie Apocalypse' novel, 'Zomburbia', go and read that now!
*This review will contain spoilers!*
To start with, I need to say a massive thank you to Kensington Books for approving my request to review this book from NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide.
Generally, when I'm reviewing a book on or before release date, I like to keep the spoilers to a minimum, but because this is the second novel in a series, I'm going to be referring to things that have happened in the first book, and this is one of those novels where everything I want to talk about is inherently spoiler based, so I'm just gonna have to go in all guns blazing.
In the first novel of the 'Zombie Apocalypse' series, we were introduced to Courtney Hart, a teenager who was selling drugs to make a better life for herself, dealing with the deaths of both of her best friends and had just gone through a not-very-brutal-at-all break-up. At the end of the book, a lot of things were left up in the air, such as whether Courtney and Phil were going to end up together, what was going to happen to her old boyfriend, new drug addict Brandon, and whether there was going to be any explanation as to how and why the zombies were developing, suddenly able to run and function more than they had in the past.
All of those questions had me going into this book with a lot of hope for answers, and for the issues that I had with the last book to just be kinks that Adam Gallardo was going to work out, but sadly none of my prayers were answered. In fact, the things that I liked about the last novel seemed to have deteriorated, leaving me shuffling through this one with a bland disinterest.
In the first book, I thought that the mixture between teen romance and zombie action had been perfectly offset, leaving us with a YA novel about zombies that didn't have too much hormonal stropping, but that mixture was completely tipped the other way in this second book. Yes, there was still quite a lot of zombie action spread throughout - Cody, Phil and Courtney going on nightly hunts was exciting toward the start of the novel - but the sequences were all repeated: find a zombie, try to kill the zombie, fall over/drop weapon/other mistake that causes you to nearly get killed, have one of your friends save you, happy ending. This happened so many times throughout that as soon as zombie was in the scene I was just pleading for it to be over already, because I was internally face palming the entire time. The zombie action was dry, but even drier was Courtney's personality. Instead of being the bad-ass (sort of) woman that I'd grown to have fond feelings for in the first novel, she became a over-the-top, hormonal idiot.
No, I'm not being harsh. At various points, Phil would say something and Courtney would take it in the completely wrong way, leading to a harsh internal monologue and a strop. After one of these instances, she decided to kiss another guy (because that's a great way to deal with your relationship problems, well done!), hid it from Phil and was beyond shocked when the other guy decided to say something to his friend. After everything came out, Phil decided to forgive Courtney, but then later on in the novel she said that "boyfriends and girlfriends should never keep secrets" and called him selfish, both of which made her the biggest hypocrite I'd ever had the displeasure of encountering. If I was Phil I would have called her out on it, but of course, he just let it slide, not even a flinch of irritation due to her appalling attitude towards him.
Similarly to the first book, the first half of this novel was definitely the better part, but it all just seemed so predictable that I had no invested interest. Brandon being Buddha's drug dealer was the most blatant plot point I've ever encountered, but it took Courtney so long to catch on that I just wanted to slap her. Furthermore, Brandon's death was obvious from the moment he walked into her bathroom with drugs in his pocket, and I was exasperated that Courtney didn't see it coming.
The ending of the book, too, was predictable. The first novel ended with a massive zombie attack at a party, so the second one had to do the Exact. Same. Thing. At. The. Exact. Same. Location. The entire situation just made me want to scream - if you'd been attacked at a cabin in the middle of the woods and nearly died, would you want to return? No! And if you did want to return, I'm pretty sure you deserve to get eaten by zombies, because that's just idiotic. I was kind of disappointed, in a sadistic way, that none of the main characters died, because it might have justified the time that I'd spent reading this novel. The face-off between Courtney and Brandon was the ultimate anti-climax, with her killing him quickly and easily within a minute or two, and it really wasn't worth all of the build-up throughout the entire novel. It just didn't seem written realistically, in the way that she charged forward on her solo mission and took out the evil overlord of all of the zombies without even breaking a sweat.
The book ended in such a way that that could be it - Courtney and Phil happily going off to their respective colleges, driving off into the sunset together - and I really hope that this is the last of the 'Zombie Apocalypse' novels, because I just can't see them getting any better. Yes, I am kind of interested in seeing what New York is like following the zombie apocalypse and the army reclaiming, and that could be written very well, but what Adam needs to do is not repeat the same plot again. If there is a third book, and it ends with a massive party and a zombie attack, I will scream from frustration. The zombies are still intriguing, and it's still more unique than most of the other books in the genre, but it doesn't matter how individualistic your ideas are if you're just squeezing them into the same formula. This series had a lot of potential, but it seems like it's missed the mark quite dramatically.