Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield

Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many weeks have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.
And with her, nearly all of civilization.
Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.
In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety.
For the Beaters are out there.
And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world….

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield is not just a postapocalyptic novel about a world where humans are turned into zombies, it is about a mother's quest to find her daughter and to atone for her past.

Cass has no idea what day it is or why she's alive. Weeks after zombies known as "beaters" infested California and began roaming around for live flesh, she wakes under a tree with wounds consistent to a beater attack. Then she remembers that the beaters grabbed her less than twenty-four hours after she got her toddler daughter back. The question is: why isn't she now a beater too? "Before," meaning before the world changed, Cass was a recovering alcoholic and had lost custody of her daughter to her estranged mother and current husband. She was sober and trying to reestablish her life by working steadily and staying clean. Now, losing Ruthie a second time has turned Cass into a woman with one goal and Terminator-like determination: find her little girl and get her somewhere safe. Along the way, she sees what civilization turns into when the PTB are no longer around to keep order - groups like the Rebuilders, militia-types who decided that they're the ones who get to reestablish society in their own image or the Convent, a group of zealot nun wannabes who have cloistered themselves in a baseball stadium and worship the zombies (sort of). The silver lining may be found in Smoke, the man who joined her on her quest.

Aftertime is a rather gruesome read. Zombies shuffle around, nibbling on those part of their bodies that they can reach with their mouths. They become a mockery of humanity with some of the random things they would do as if life were normal again like playing with dolls or trying to do yard work. However, they're not the real enemy in this book, humans are. Devious, greedy, and sometimes downright evil, some of the humans in Aftertime are a disgrace. Cass, however, is not. I liked her and I liked Aftertime. The sequel, Rebirth, will be released on July 19, 2011.

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