Before you read on, let's get one thing out of the way, shall we? I'm just some guy who sits around in his boxer shorts with a coffee mug full of one addictive fluid or another, and writes. You may not believe it, but I have no lucrative book deals. Hollywood executives are not lined up at my door, eager to buy the rights to my latest piece.
What I'm saying is, my opinion is just my opinion, and it doesn't mean shit to anyone but me, and maybe the people around me. I know it's not important, but that doesn't stop me from sharing it.
As The World Dies: Siege
I have praised both of Rhiannon Frater's previous "As The Word Dies" books, The First Days and Fighting To Survive.
I felt at the time that it was justified praise, and I feel that way now. It's brain candy, so if you're a literary snob, you probably won't dig it--of course if you're a literary snob, you wouldn't be hanging around The Strangelands in the first place. So yeah, it's brain candy, but it's delicious brain candy. I'm not implying that her works are juvenile or dumb-ed down, I'm only saying that they're about zombies, so maybe it's not the best thing going into them hoping for life-changing literature.
The third book in the trilogy is Siege.
It was not what I was expecting. I'm not saying it was bad, I want to get that out of the way right now. But it wasn't what I expected, and to be honest, it wasn't what I wanted.
I should mention that I re-read her first book, plowed through the second, and then started in on this one, so my opinion of the last book is obviously skewed by the first two, which I really liked. The third one just didn't hold up, compared to the others.
I should also mention that I am constantly fighting the urge to throw in phrases like, "in my opinion" or "it's just the way I feel," or any number of other things that reflect the fact that this is just me talking.
I follow Rhiannon on both Twitter and Facebook, and I am even a lurking member of her forum. I'm not as
rabid diehard as a lot of her fans are, but I wish her the best, and am thrilled with the success that has been coming her way, as of late.
But Siege just didn't strike me as hard as the previous books in the series. It felt...well, it felt more girly than the other two. There was a lot more talk about emotions and relationships and all that other shit that basically makes my skin crawl. It also seemed like this book had been directed a little more towards the 'tween crowd. The characters say things like, "Boys are dumb," and "I would never hold her back from loving again."
Maybe that isn't 'tween stuff, I don't know. Maybe that's just how chicks are. But I didn't notice it in the first two books, and in this one, I did.
The contrast was made even sharper because Siege also contained a lot of the familiar bad-assery present in the rest of the trilogy. There were still the parts that had me flipping the page almost before I was done reading it, ready to see what happens next. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Rhiannon has some pretty serious talent.
She can tell a story, and she can tell it in a way that makes you want to put off the other stuff you've gotta do that day in order to hear the story she's telling.
I'm going to switch gears for a second, so bear with me. One of the reasons I really felt like I needed to write this review was because I noticed the other day she mentioned someone saying Siege has the "evil military" cliché, and she didn't feel like it was justified.
Something about that sounded familiar, so I checked a few things online and found Devon's None May Say post, which reviewed Eat Me, as well the As The World Dies trilogy. And sure enough, some jackass made this comment:
"By the way--you're right about the As The World Dies trilogy. The evil military showed up. I was even more let down to discover that the author seemed to cater to the 'tween audience a little more in the third book. To each their own, I guess."
Yep, I'm that jackass. In my defense, I didn't realize it sounded so harsh when I wrote it. Also in my defense, if I had taken the space needed to fully explain myself, it would have totally hijacked the page, and I didn't want to do that.
Does Siege have an evil military angle? Sure it does. But I didn't cringe in the middle of reading and go, "Oh no, not this old cliché again!"
It was just another aspect of the story, and it felt more like an homage than a cliché.
Rhiannon also incorporated a few other aspects that might rub you the wrong way, but to talk about them might spoil the story for you, so if you want to read the book without any notion of what lies ahead, skip the next paragraph.
Okay, here's a little filler just because a spoiler alert is pointless when right after the alert, you have exactly what happens, so you can't help but read it. That's probably enough filler, right? So another aspect that seemed to bother a few people was the ghost angle. Yes, there are ghosts in this zombie story. I didn't know how I felt about that at first, but as the story continues, someone mentions something like, "the rules of death have changed." Obviously, if you have dead people walking around, the rules of death have changed. So why not ghosts? As...well...silly as the idea of ghosts in a zombie book sounded to me at first, she worked them into the story pretty well. It didn't bother me nearly as much as I had originally thought, and I actually came around to enjoy a novel idea that I hadn't seen incorporated into a zombie story before.
Okay, that's the end of the spoiler talk.
So to sum up the review: Did I enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the previous two? No. Why? Because it felt too girly to me. Am a chauvinistic dickhead? Probably. But I'm guessing you already knew this.
Would I suggest buying Siege? If it was a stand-alone book, I'd say no, unless you're the kind of person who wants emotional crap intertwined with your horror. But as the final part of a longer story, I would say absolutely. The first two books more than make up for any shortcomings I feel the third book has, and if chick stuff doesn't bother you, than you'll probably like this one just as much.
I like my zombie books with pretty much one emotion: fear. You can throw a little of the other stuff in there if you have to, to make the characters more real or whatever. But when you develop a whole other side-story about relationships, that's where I draw the line. I prefer brain-splatter over heart-break (says the guy who has written about a million stories about broken hearts --yes I realize I'm a hypocrite).
And now that I've brought it back around to focusing on me, I guess I can end this review.
Posted under Reviews on 3/27/10