The Reawakening by Joseph Souza was a weak start to the zombie series, The Living Dead, but the storyline improves greatly with the second installment. Now, I will admit I am not a fan of supernatural zombies. When the dead started talking about an afterlife, before they tried to eat the survivors, I didn’t think I was going to make it through another page in the first book. Granted, the cause of the undead rising in this book is a science experiment gone wrong, but the nature of the undead left me wondering if I was going to be able to finish The Reawakening. As a matter of fact, The Reawakening seemed more like a sci-fi/fantasy story with just enough brutality thrown in to give it a horror flavor, and not really what I would call a zombie story.
I also disliked the characters in the first book – the way they interacted with each other was deplorable, especially considering some of them were related. There was definitely no bonding of any kind within this group of survivors. Not to mention the effort it took to keep reading: a corpse rots faster than the pace of the first installment. However, after a while, I rather enjoyed the suffering of the characters (sick, I know), and I was just curious enough about their fates to finish the book. I would have thought it was a stand-alone, if not for the fact that I already had the sequel in my possession. I figured the second story couldn’t possibly be any worse than the first one.
I found Darpocalypse to be a great improvement over the first book. All of the characters, even some of the survivors from the first book, were extremely remarkable, and the range of personalities was fantastic. Rather than rooting for any particular survivor, or survivor group, I simply enjoyed reading the battle royale for survival against the supernatural undead. I was utterly captivated. I’m not reading zombie literature to increase my brainpower, so it’s refreshing to find an author that remembers the main reason for writing: ENTERTAINING the readers.
In the first book, readers were introduced to a zombie apocalypse caused by a genetic experiment gone wrong. The story centered around a family trying to survive until helped arrived, but they soon found out that their survival was entirely up to them. In the sequel, one of the characters from the first book, Dar, has risen from the carnage and become a very formidable leader of a community that is doing better than the tattered remains of the US government. Unfortunately, the government is willing to throw away the lives of Dar’s followers in order to save their precious capitol.
Instead of slapping readers in the face with an abrupt cliff-hanger in Darpocalypse, Souza wrote an ending that has me dying to read the next book in the trilogy – I’m glad I chose to follow Dar through the Living Dead. It’s definitely a unique approach to the whole zombie apocalypse scenario, so if you are looking for something different, this might be the series you’ve been waiting for.