Life for Kansas was perfect until the day the world changed.
She has been hiding out for four years in solitude. It's the only way to survive. The only way not to draw the living dead. Helping a small group of people, she learns the new world might not be what she assumes. Venturing out of her refuge and comfort zone, she meets Rudy, who helps her find a greater purpose. She realizes that the world has moved on without her. Only it's not what she expects. Her knowledge of the living dead grows and only makes her more curious as humanity continues to hang on by a thread. While on her search for answers she finds comfort in new friendships and love, but her past seems as if it will haunt her forever.
Kansas takes it upon herself to help other survivors, which would be easy if the famished were the only obstacles.
In a trilogy plot thick with twists and turns, this adult dark fantasy is emotional as much as it is horrifyingly gripping.
Title: Taking On The Dead
Series: The Famished Trilogy, Book One
Author: Annie Walls
Published: August 2012
Format: Ebook provided by author for review
Wow. No, WOW. I loved this book! This book has ignited a passion to acquire a cross bow. I am now more sure than ever that I need one. And I love apocalypse books, because they all feel a little bit like I am training (without leaving my couch) for what is surely to come soon! And that is all inspired by Kansas City Sunshine Moore.
Who the heck is Kansas City Sunshine Moore? She is the main character in Annie Walls’ Taking On The Dead. Big bonus points for unique names there! But Kansas usually goes by Kan, which is short and sweet and to the point. Necessity has turned Kan into a strong woman and I immediately impressed right from the very first pages during the prologue. The prologue itself was very eerie and sad and scary. It was the perfect opener, and it showed the Zombie Apocalypse’s beginning.
The rest of the story takes place several years later. The world as we know it has been turned upside down. And Kansas has been living a solitary life. As one man says to her in the story, its no wonder she isn’t crazy! Zombies seem to run in packs, and they like the cooler weather. I thought this was a very interesting aspect because it threw my theories out the window! Yep, now I have to come up with a whole new apoc plan because if Annie Walls is right, we will want to go where the weather is warm!
Annie’s zombies are grotesque and disgusting. In other words, perfect. They are exactly what zombies should be. They are in different states of decomposition, and Ms. Walls spares no expense describing the putrification of these zombies. And even better, they are called zombies! You see a lot of books skirt around the whole “Z” word. Yes, they are called several other things in this story – but they are also called zombies!
So four years later, and a series of events has caused Kansas to come in contact with people. Some of them betray her. But with every closed door, there is an open window…to jump right out of. And then Kan meets Rudy. I immediately feel like I like Rudy. He is big, strong, and he has a heart of gold. The man has some secrets, but in this day and age everyone does. There were many points in this story that I held a secret hope that there would be a romance, but you will have to read to find that out for yourself!
Kan is the type of survivor I want to be. She is smart, resourceful, powerful in her own way. And of course, there is the cross bow. But the great characters don’t end with her. Of course there is Rudy, who you feel like you want to be his friend right away. But then she meets Mac, and Reece. Shout out to Reece, the tattoo artist from Detroit (my hometown!). Yes, I did just give a shout out to a fictional character. You do it too. You know you do. All of Annie’s characters are just vibrant and full of personality. Even the ones I hated were just as easy to picture as if they were standing right in front of me.
This book is full of twists and turns. In some ways you find civilization is moving on. In some ways you can almost even say it is thriving. There is a community there that I just found fascinating, and I have future plans to pester Annie Walls into creating stories for more people living there… namely, Glinda. Oh yeah, I definitely want to know more about this diamond in the rough. She becomes a great friend to Kan, and right away you wonder who you should be more jealous of.
But then again, if this story proves one thing over and over – it is beware of who you trust! In a world where nothing is permanent, people will do almost anything to survive. But once you find someone that you know without a doubt is true, well, hold on to them.
My final thoughts? It’s a good thing this book is part one in a trilogy, because I definitely want to read more – immediately. And I have plenty of questions about some things that have happened in the book. And the author is being very tight lipped with the answers. So I’m sorry, I can’t give you any hints of what is to come! But this story has definitely become one of my favorites of the year. It is written with heart and emotion, and a bit of snark. I have hope for Kan’s future. There is some really terrific action, horror, and a healthy dose of drama. There’s even bits of romance here and there, but make no mistake, this isn’t a romance book. But the story has all of the elements I love. A kickass heroine, a couple great heroes in the making… and zombies!!! Now since this is a release celebration (and I will update with the buy links as soon as they are available) let’s make this a party! Check out the EXCLUSIVE excerpt below, and begin to see why I fell in love with this story! And EVEN BETTER - Annie Walls has agreed to giveaway a copy of TAKING ON THE DEAD!!
I usually get excited about seeing zombies, loving the chance to get up close and check them out. Then do my duty and kill them. Looking out the window, I can’t make out how many there are. My SUV rocks slightly from them trying to get in, but all they can really do is push. Since they’re old, getting out of this situation should be a piece of cake. As long as I don’t have to get out of the car, I’m going to be fine.
I climb to the driver’s seat and start the engine, sending the zombies into a frenzy of jerky and unstable movement. I resist the urge to sit and study them as if I were biology class. With the gearshift in drive, I punch the gas. Several zombies are piled like a cheerleader pyramid on the front hood, and I can’t see through the windshield. The initial launch dislodges a couple of them, and the car thrusts up and down jaggedly from running over a few.
I hold the steering wheel straight and pick up speed. A street is ahead somewhere. Looking for the road, the car bumps up in the front, hitting a curb. Jostling up and down in my seat, I’m starting to relish this joyride and my lips stretch into a wide grin. I jerk the wheel to the left sharply. The SUV lurches where I want it to go without flipping over, and more zombies tumble off to the right. I see bloody matter spray from that direction. The old zombies splatter on the pavement like gory water balloons.
Two zombies still hold tight to the hood, their fingers in the space between the hood and windshield. A mouth bites at the glass directly in front of me. Its lost fingers from trying to hold on somewhere along the way. I pick up speed before slamming on the brakes, effectively dislodging it. Its remaining fingers rip off, and it slides feet first to the ground. The other zombie hangs on, slowly creeping toward my side. I put the gearshift in reverse. When I hit the gas without looking back, the SUVshoots backwards in response. I feel rather than hear several meaty thuds as it knocks zombies away. I hit the brakes again, and can see enough to get out and fight them. It’s not worth the risk of crashing into a tree. I grab my crossbow.
Just as I aim at the zombie, watching it closely as I get out, a large arrow goes straight through its head, and it explodes into chunky pieces. I blink to make sure I didn’t conjure that in my mind. Nope, his brains still decorate my windshield. I peer out the window, even though the arrow came from the other direction. Zombies litter the ground. I should just turn around and leave, but I want to see who shot the arrow.
The first thing I notice upon getting out of the SUV is the rancidity. The strong stink of decay hits my nose and the back of my throat. The blood and chunky bits all over the car makes it worse. Unsavory bile from my stomach helps mask the taste. The smell is still overpowering, rotten and putrid. My face scrunches and my mouth waters – my stomach swirls.
I’m still battling the nausea when more flying arrows grab my attention. They take down the approaching zombies. The archer is very well hidden. I lift my crossbow and shoot my own zombie, and the larger arrows subside. My arrows are much smaller than these, which are meant for serious big game hunting. The larger arrows are always harder for me to aim and still hit a target. Though they are much better for long distance shooting, I still stick with my pistol crossbow.
After the zombies are down, I step out to retrieve my arrows from the rotting flesh. The bow hunter is already doing the same thing. I freeze and stare. Dawn is near, so I see him clearly. He can’t be mistaken for anything but a man. His profile makes my breath catch.
Black leather boots under frayed jeans hold a zombie head down as he jerks an arrow out of the skull. His arms flex when he wags gooey bits from his arrows.
I can’t see his face, but he is tall, much taller than me with broad shoulders and wavy brown hair tied back with a dark green bandana. It’s shining golden brown as it blows in the wind, caressing the compound bow strapped to his back.
A large arrow holster hangs by his side. The hunting bow goes from the back of his knees to a few inches above his head. The biggest bow I’ve seen, making me think it is custom made. The wind blows in the other direction, and his hair whips across his face. It barely brushes the tops of his shoulders.
This guy is locked, stocked, and loaded with a big gun tucked into the front of his jeans. When he looks up at me, I feel like a deer caught in headlights, but only for a moment. I escape his gaze. Knowing this guy is helping me, but not caring to know his motivation, I hop into the SUV and hit the gas. The wheels get caught in sticky blood, but finally catch the traction I need for a hasty U-turn.
I bound down the road, peering into the rearview mirror. The last thing I see is morning sun glinting off suntanned shoulders, and boot treads running in the opposite direction.
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