The legions of the undead continue to grow.
First Time Dead proudly presents a host of brand new names to the genre pantheon. Each writer contained herein might be the next “it” writer on the rise…the one to watch for. You never know where the next Romero, Kirkman, Brooks, Keene, or Wellington may emerge to scare and entertain the masses.
By Dane Grannon
This is an excellent collection of stories by first time published authors. The stories examine various aspects of what the zombie outbreak means to a variety of people while expanding and redefining the mythos of zombies.
In “In This House I Dwell” by Ron Harris, the coming of the undead are tied to an otherly world event. A very likable man struggles against a world of despair. In the climatic scene, he enters the eternal battle to save the woman he loves. The religious overtones in this story are very well done.
“Zombie Bites : The Old Dead” by D.A. Chaney examines the origins of the outbreak. The reader is placed at ground zero. This very well done story is constructed in a classic short story fashion. Nice pacing and no wasted scenes highlight this story. The gripping beginning is masterfully echoed in the end. The cause of the outbreak is something that I’d never seen before. This is my favorite of the book.
“Ooky” by Matthew E. Davis certainly lives up to the title. Two young survivors console and amuse each other by telling a particular exploit. This story is definitely rated a strong PG-13. The imagery will stick with me for a long time.
“Once More Without Feelings” by Joe Blevins is the most classical zombie story that I’d read to that point. It examines zombies from a very different perspective than the current trend of zombie plagues. This tale harkens back to the zombie tales of New Orleans. The fault here is that it starts rather slowly. It is still my second favorite.
“Snow Days” by Donny Chavez is an excellent snapshot of life during the height of the outbreak. This story doesn’t provide much opportunity for character growth but as a snapshot, I found it more than satisfactory. Regina is a remarkable main character. I hope to see her in more stories.
“Zombies in Puerto Rico: Island of the Dead” by Alexandro Rios details the problems faced by the larger islands when confronted by the zombie outbreak. The slow loss of everything is highlighted in a newspaper story style. The main character is a journalist and the author effectively renders the story in that consistent manner. It reminds me of World War Z in presentation. I understand that the style is deliberately detached, but I prefer more emotional involvement with the characters.
“The Last Legacy” by Amanda Larson is another island story. In this story, the protagonist writes a journal describing the events and struggles of the people. There is a notable lack of zombies. This is an excellent idea that I feel would be better served in a longer format. Instead of telling me the story, show it to me. This intriguing story does the best job of world building in the collection.
I approached “The Mission” by Eric Pollarine with high expectations after having read his excellent story “A Man of Letters”. I was not disappointed. This story showed why May December Publications went ahead and published “A Man of Letters”. Excellent description, fast action, and a dead one examination of the effect of killing a zombie has on the psyche of an “everyman” make this well worth reading. The characters’ psychological breakdown is mirrored in their physical condition. Great Job Eric.
I may be weird — no strike that — I am weird but I found “The Hungriest Zombie” by Jason Pracker to be an amusing and heart warming tale. The author managed to make me feel sympathy for a zombie. The “scary” scenes appear to be deliberately written to pull a laugh from the reader. I read this one twice.
“Rude Awakening” by David Maynard is the exact opposite in tone from its predecessor. The author does an excellent job showing us the destruction of a man. Sharp images and intense emotions make this story one that the reader will not forget. As a parent, this one hit me really hard.
“Zombie by Night” by Aaron Phillips expands the zombie mythos in ways that I’d never considered. Can a flesh-eating monster be a “good guy”? This story sets up a world where your new neighbor might be more than he seems. And, of course, revenge is a dish best served warm and bloody.
“What the Cat Dragged In” by Gregory A. Carter continues the theme of a family undergoing destruction. A young couple struggles to survive in a world where humans aren’t the only zombies. My only lament was that the two main characters sounded too much alike. Even considering that, this is an excellent story. I felt the main character’s loss as he embraced the end.
This is an outstanding collection that I am proud to have read. My hat’s off to the writers.