I'm not going to rate this, because I neither finished it, nor did I have the right book to begin with. I wanted the first book in this series, but all of the books in this series are insensibly named Autumn: The Something.
There is no mention anywhere on the jacket copy that this is the second in a series. I feel you, writer man, you want people to be able to start anywhere, this book not so much a sequel as a re-start, winding back to event that killed everyone and began the zombies, and then moving forward with a new batch of folk.
That is all fine, but I did not know this going in, and kept wondering what the hell was wrong with this book. The pacing is way off here, going for a tone and pace that will be considered thoughtful, and hitting boring and declaratory. The zombies here are interesting - starting with inanimate corpses, slow movement over days, and only very much later showing the kind of aggression one expects from the undead. (Though they seem never to become biters.)
But, if we have already written a book about this exact kind of zombies, doesn't it seem like either the author is
a) playing a needless game of hide-the-football with his readers? I was a good way in, and the characters were both pretty confused about what was going on, and talking about it a lot in a non-character-building manner. I know that the characters haven't encountered these zombies before, but the reader has (maybe) so this restraint feels miserly.
b) relying too strongly on the fact that your audience has read the previous book? Maybe there were a bunch of sly references and cameos from the previous book, but I certainly wasn't getting them. I completely admit much of my irritation was based on my own mistake, but I find this sort of obscuring packaging frustrating - why not let me know this was one of a series?
If you're going to be a sequel, then be the freaking sequel. No need both to rewrite the beginning of the end with different characters, and play coy with your readers. And if you aren't playing coy, then why is this book so goddamn slooooooooow?
The book felt like it had the going-to-the-bathroom problem you find in some post-apocalyptic fiction. Yes, survival in the corpse-ridden landscape is dreary and involves a lot of mundanity - like Will Smith carefully going out to scavenge supplies, or every other page of The Road
. (And those scenes were mostly interesting, because they had a point other than the going to the bathroom. “I'm going to the bathroom!” My kids shout to me when they are going. “Okay!” I yell. I have no idea why they tell me these things. Anyway, yes, you went through all the desks, character. Good job. Don't forget to flush.) The Maslow's Triangle is inverted in zombie fiction, and food is as important as your soul, probably more so. That's why people write this shuff, maybe, to examine the fool/soul mix in our dumb, genetically determined survival instincts. Or whatever. Likely this review doesn't make any sense. Moreover, I get how unhelpful this review is, because if you're coming at this book having read the first, you can judge very differently.
Anyway, I was very much not excited by what I read, which had characters doing a bunch of stupid shit I had little patience for. Seriously, people, you live in a culture where there have been Romero-style zombie films for the past 50 years, do not head into the city once the dead walk. That's stupid times. I hope you get eaten. Or whatever, because there wasn't any entrail-gobbling corpses here, more's the pity.