In Dead: The Ugly Beginning, the first book in this series, a guy named Steve reflects back on the beginning of a zombie outbreak. Steve manages to save Thalia, a little girl who lived in his apartment building, and joined by a teenager named Teresa. The point of view begins to switch between various individuals and groups, but the shifts are easy to follow, despite the large cast. Some of the returning characters also include: Juan Hoya, who’d been living in his car for eight months before the outbreak reached him; Mike, Kevin, and Cary – some friends chatting online who create a survival plan that smacks of movie scenarios, and Ian, who was trapped in his prison cell. The book had ended with a huge cliffhanger.
It had been so long since I read the first one, I was a little lost when I began reading Revelations, but it didn’t take very long to remember who was who, and what was going on – which shows how well-written this sequel is. It also helps that there are fewer main characters to keep track of, due to the zombie hordes, and a nut-job militia group led by a man named Shaw. I honestly think the Dead series is much better than Brown’s Zomblog series.
Both major and minor characters suffer and/or die, keeping the storyline unpredictable. I did see pattern emerging between the multiple survivor groups; even though most of them have not physically crossed paths, some past connections become visible as more of the backgrounds of the characters are revealed. The psychological aspects of the relationships are more pronounced, not only between friends, but also the captors and captives. Most importantly, the survivors are learning more about the nature of the zombie virus, and incorporating the new information into their plans.
Some differences between the first and second books consist of new characters that are easily identifiable (ex: drug addict that sobers up at a research facility, deaf girl) – making them completely memorable from one POV switch to the next, longer scenes with each group, and a perspective from one of the zombies. (Not so much what the zombie is thinking, as much as descriptions of how the infected are functioning, but those details are only known to the reader, not the characters…not yet.)
Thankfully, readers will not have to wait as long for the third installment in Brown’s Dead series, published by May December Publications.