MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for the first two books in this trilogy.Siege is the conclusion to Rhiannon Frater’s As the World Dies trilogy, which should appeal to fans of The Walking Dead. Both The First Days and Fighting to Survive won the Dead Letter Award from Mail Order Zombie. The First Days was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner.
The zombie illness has shattered civilization. The survivors who have found tenuous safety in Texas defend their fort against the walking dead and living bandits.
Katie has made peace with the death of her wife and is pregnant and married to Travis, who has been elected Mayor. Jenni, her stepson, Jason; and Juan—Travis’s righthand man—are a happy family, though Jenni suffers from PTSD. Both women are deadly zombie killers. In Siege, the people of Ashley Oaks are stunned to discover that the vice president of the United States is alive and commanding the remnants of the US military. What’s left of the US government has plans for this group of determined survivors.
A wild ride would be a flippant description of this final novel in the As the World Dies trilogy, but I am drawn to that phrase. I was prepared for some of the changes that were going to take place, but I didn't see all the heartbreak coming at all. Rhiannon Frater has absolutely no problem butchering characters to make her point. A key theme in this book was the fragility of life coupled with the ability to lose anything. This book drove that point home.
As usual, we pick up where we left off. Travis is mayor of the fort & married to a pregnant Katie. Jenni, the ax-wielding Loca, is with Juan and her step son Jason. The fort is doing quite well & is thriving off its supply scavenges while continuing to keep the zombies at bay by intriguing means. That doesn't mean that things don't go screwy sometimes, but for the most part life is good.
With winter giving way to spring, the group resumes expanding their hold on downtown. What they don't expect is for one of their own to lose their head, killing fort members. In a race against time & better judgement, a team heads to a local hospital (knowing that hospitals meant death traps on the first day of the rising) to gather much needed supplies to tend to the wounded. On their way back, Jenni & a fellow supply runner are kidnapped by none-other than a power-hungry politician who will stop at nothing to see the fort under her control.
While nothing has been a guarantee since the rising began, safety is becoming a relative term.
Rhiannon Frater has done what few authors have been able to do for me. They gave me a zombie story I could believe. The humanity in these characters is so perfectly embodied & their actions actually make sense. Their reactions & interactions are so true to life, I wouldn't be surprised if she had done research on people's reactions in an emergency situation/crisis.
The writing style is one that usually bothers me, but for some reason I hardly noticed it in this instance. The majority of the story is told from Katie, Jenni, & Travis's points of view, but interspersed between them are other survivors tales. That doesn't mean they overpower the narrative, they just seem to give credence to what is taking place in the story. By far the most important aspect of the writing, and one that Frater does extremely well, is the flow. There has to be a certain pace & balance between action and narrative in order for the reader not to feel overwhelmed. Frater walks that line perfectly. If you view the series as a whole it becomes increasing clear that it has been a main element since the beginning.
There didn't need to be too much character development in this book as the first two because it was really just a continuation of an already established routine. What does change though are the dynamics between the characters. With a new baby on the way & certain people's flaws and strengths come into quick view. These character traits are what create the plot of the story.
With just enough gore & violence to keep things active, Siege is a smashing finale to this phenomenal series. I find it interesting to note that out of all the zombie books I've read (or tried to read) the ones I really like are the ones written by women (Rhiannon Frater, Gena Showalter, Ann Aguirre, & Mira Grant). Hmmm, I wonder why that is?
How about you? Do you have any favorites or suggestions along those lines?