Author: Rhiannon Frater
Series: As the World Dies #2
Date Published: November 8, 2011
Source: Won during the Pretty As She Dies Read Along!
Picking up where The First Days ends, Fighting to Survive features the further zombie-killing, civilization-saving adventures of a pair of sexy, kick butt heroines and the men who love them. A hundred or so survivors of the zombie plague have found tenuous safety in the walled off center of a small Texas town. Now the hard work of survival begins—finding enough food; creating safe, weather-resistant shelter; establishing laws; and fighting off both the undead who want to eat them and the living bandits who want to rob and kill them.
Let's make things nice and simple regarding my feelings towards the As the World Dies Trilogy....They are HANDS DOWN, the most kick-ass, freaking awesome Zombie books out there today. The first book was a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am of non-stop action with a handful of emotional development thrown in to keep you completely engaged in your fabulous zombie reading experience. If you haven't read it, I'm going to hold you at gunpoint, walk you to your nearest book store, and demand that you purchase it right now...or...I would if I channeled Jenni from the series :) Check out my review HERE until I find my Glock will you?? Anywhoo.... In Fighting to Survive, Rhiannon takes us on an even more emotional journey as we again dive into the thoughts of Katie and Jenni. Though the character development plays a HUGE role, the action and plot are by no means lacking and you are alternating between squeeing with joy, screaming in terror, and wanting to crap your pants as the drama unfolds in the palm of your hands.
Ashley Oaks is a really unique form of shelter/civilization for the zombie apocalypse. It started out as a few buildings and a construction site. Typically this isn't the ideal place to ride out the apocalypse, but the cast of ingenious and crafty characters have really made it work. Plus...it's something other than a shopping mall/bomb shelter and I think we can all thank Rhiannon for the change of scenery. Now the cast are attempting to find a more permanent living situation as the population continues to grow and the current residents try to bring in other survivors from the surrounding towns. This naturally leads to the need to expand...into the zombie filled hotel. Ahhh!!! So. Much. Awesome! The clearing out and surveillance of the hotel were without a doubt some of my favorite scenes. Wracked with spine-tingling tension, breathless moments, and heartbreaking deaths, the hotel is full of more than just a zombified staff.
The characters seem to have so much more depth and are even more substantial than they were in The First Days. Jenni progresses from being this shell of a person, only wanting to follow others, to being this fiery, strong, and completely kick-ass chick. Even more than that, we see her come to terms with the death of her husband and his abuse from the years before the end of the world. In many ways, putting the ghosts of her past to rest is harder for her than killing the zombies and I loved seeing her grow in herself and also in her love of Juan. Seriously...Katie should be jealous because Jenni gets some of the best one-liners I've ever heard! She is straight up hilarious and has me laughing my ass off even when all the characters are terrified and covered in guts and blood. I admit I am a little worried for her sanity still...seeing ghosts is not necessarily the best thing for her, but I guess it's her way of dealing with the grief and trauma of all that has happened to her. She is also terribly reckless for someone who now has so much to live for, but I think she is starting to see that as well...If I was a therapist I'm sure I would say she is making a lot of progress! :)
During my review of the first book in the series, I remarked at how I was disappointed that Katie wasn't a lesbian after all. For me, it seemed that being bisexual was just a convenient way of making a more romantic story. It felt rushed, and slightly out of character for a woman who I had perceived as gay from the get-go. I loved that Katie was such a strong lesbian character at a time when gay characters tend to be a bit one-sided or overemphasized. My disappointment and further remarks were met with a TON of discussion on my review of The First Days, regarding Katie as a lesbian vs. Katie as bisexual. The discussion led to some great thoughts and comments from readers and Rhiannon herself, especially the idea that there really are almost no substantial LGBT characters in literature. Furthermore, once I had accepted that Katie was in fact a bisexual, I really enjoyed her portrayal. Katie's feelings for both sexes really makes her an even more dynamic character than I had previously thought, and I felt like it created new dimensions to the story that make it even more amazing. Not really because of FtS, but because it's interesting to me, I've had discussions with friends about what it means to be bisexual. For those of us who have only ever had feelings for one sex, it can be confusing to understand what makes bisexuals tick. We think that either they are gay and are just saying that they members of the opposite sex to stay within a kind of acceptable social norm, or that they haven't found the right girl/boy yet and are just experimenting in the mean time.Through Katie's inner monologue, her dreams about her wife Lydia, and her romance with Travis, I really feel like I can understand what it means to be bisexual. She drives home that you can find both sexes attractive, and just because you marry one way or the other doesn't make you forget the other sex. You just found your soul mate in either a girl or a guy. I think that Katie is one of the best reflections of the LGBT community in literature and everyone should read her story...or at least a character like her.
In addition to the characters we already know and love, we got to meet some new and upcoming ones as well. There were several couples that peaked my curiosity, if not downright suspicion, and I look forward to seeing if my predictions about them will come true in the final book of the trilogy. I also loved finding out more about the bandits that killed poor Nerit's hubby and who have been ransacking surrounding outposts. I have always wondered about the bad humans that survive disasters. The ones you see pillaging people's houses during hurricanes, and mugging people as they flee disaster with all their valuables. Rhiannon shows that these people don't go away just because there are zombies...in fact they might get worse. The sheer depravity that exists in human nature is present not only outside of the encampment, but throughout Ashley Oaks as well...sometimes rearing it's ugly head in the form of a sexist pig...or maybe in the form of a vigilante...there's SO much plot gold in Fighting to Survive that it's hard to just pick one aspect to rave about.
I definitely give Fighting to Survive 5 Keys. I think this series is well on it's way to becoming my favorite Zombie series of all time....*gasp!* Even more than The Walking Dead!..*Double Gasp!* I couldn't put it down if I tried. No seriously...I'd put it down to go eat or something, and somehow find myself in my kitchen sitting on the counter among the vegetables and sandwich making snacky-bits STILL reading the book. It's one of those books that plagues your thoughts when you're away and turns YOU into the zombie until you finish it! Emotions are constantly bouncing from high to low and you feel like something is about to happen with the turn of every page. Tension and danger are everywhere in this amazing second book to the trilogy. Judging from the title of Siege, I'm going to guess that the finale of the series will be full of tension and trauma...whatever lies ahead for Jennie, Katie, Travis and the rest...it will undoubtedly be totally epic!
Check out the Entire As The World Dies Trilogy!