May Contain Spoilers
I loved Waking Up Dead! It’s got a little bit of everything – intense action scenes, gooey zombies, and even a romance that develops over time as the protagonists flee from the north to Texas. Jackson is a kick-ass heroine who doesn’t need anyone to take care of her, and in fact, she saves Luke many times with her fighting skills. If it hadn’t been for a recent Candy Crush addiction, I wouldn’t have been able to put it down! Curse you, Candy Crush!
I really liked the protagonists. Jackson has been on the run, hiding from zombies since the virus broke out 2 years ago. She is understandably traumatized, pushing all of the horrible things she’s seen and been forced to do behind thick mental walls that she defends as fiercely as she defends herself against the waking dead. Luke, on the other hand, has had things pretty good. He found a bunker, has had food, power, and even running water. He hasn’t had to live on the razor edge of fear and adrenalin that Jackson has. He is clean, warm, and well fed, compared to the calorie deprived Jackson. He’s rather content in his bunker. He doesn’t think the zombies can get in, and he only ventures out when necessary. When he does leave because the zombies that usually pound unceasingly on the roof of the bunker suspiciously disappear, he thinks they might have found another human. Curious and wanting to save them because he is lonely, he discovers Jackson fleeing down the street in her panties. Yes, her panties, and believe me, it made more sense when I was reading it than when I just typed it.
After they hook up, circumstances force them to flee from the bunker. Jackson wants to find her friend and traveling companion, Tye, who is missing, and so she sets off for Texas, where they had been traveling to. She has heard that there are survivors there, and because Luke no longer has a safe space, he agrees to go with her. What a hair-raising journey! There were several zombie encounters that left me terrified. I quickly came to the conclusion that if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, I will not be fortunate enough to survive for an extended period of time. That Jackson has been beating them off for two years is an amazing feat, and Luke is impressed and thankful to have her with him, especially when she repeatedly saves him from becoming zombie chow.
I felt a real connection with both characters. Jackson has morphed into a lean, mean, and merciless zombie killing machine. If she saw herself before the dead woke up, she wouldn’t even recognize herself. She has been slaying the dead for so long that she can’t remember doing anything else. When they finally do discover survivors, she is at a loss. How can she contribute to the small community when the only thing she’s good at is killing zombies? She has an internal struggle to deal with, because a part of her thinks that maybe the zombies aren’t complete monsters, even though all they want to do is eat her. This coupled with her self-doubts about being a valued member of her new society makes her a very sympathetic character. Poor Jackson! All she thinks about is being safe from the monsters, but after she is, she is at odds with her new state of being.
The zombies rocked. They are fast and brutal, and as the story moves forward, there are hints that they are evolving and becoming more intelligent. What’s more frightening that a zombie? A fast, smart zombie! Argh!
The romance is sweet (don’t worry, there are hot times, too) because both Jackson and Luke think they are going to die at any time. Life is short and precious in the time of the dead. Jackson is afraid of getting attached to Luke and then losing him, just as she has lost every other person that she has loved. Luke, too, is at first reluctant to allow his emotions free rein. Heartbreak seems certain, and neither of them is sure they can survive yet another loss.
Things bogged down a little once they reached Texas and safety. Thankfully, the safety doesn’t last long. There is no getting rid of the zombies, even when you have a fortified wall to shelter behind.
If you enjoy romances with horror elements, this is the book for you. I loved it, and it is easily one of the best adult zombie books that I have read. I hope I don’t have to wait too long to see what happens next.
About the book:
You know your life has hit rock bottom when you’re living off cooked rats and showering once every few months—if you’re lucky. But for Jackson Hart things are about to get a whole lot worse. When her best friend, Tye, disappears hunting for food, kick-ass Jackson’s ‘head south to safety’ plan looks like it’s dead before it’s even begun. But then she meets ex-mechanic Luke Granger, who takes her to his bunker, feeds her with non-rat based food, and offers her protection against the zombie hordes—not that she needs it. She knows how to use a machete and isn’t afraid to.
Jackson was tempted to stay in the city with her rescuer. Food, shampoo and the possibility of finally getting laid, what more could she ask for? But the flesh eaters are getting smarter and the bunker is compromised, so Jackson and Luke have no choice but to make the journey south.
Luke and Jackson team up to find other humans in a road-trip romance for the ages. They travel for thousands of miles with zombies shadowing their every move. They must utilize every resource at their disposal…and then some. On the way, they discover that even if flesh eating zombies are knocking down their door, there’s always time for sex and even love.
Review copy provided by publisher