Meet Mitch, a father infected with the zombie virus. He knows he has 24 hours until he turns. Maybe a little more if he's lucky. He's been a half-ass father. Checked out. Distracted. Can he find a path to redemption in his final hours? Can he make sure his kids are taken care of before time runs out?
Meet Travis, a 23 year old wimp who ran away as his parents were murdered by raiders. Now he surrounds himself with towers of scavenged booze and prescription pills. He only wants to numb the pain. Then he comes upon the men who killed his family. Now he has a choice.
Meet Erin, a 16 year old girl taking care of an 8 year old orphan. Six months ago she was worried about prom. Now she worries about zombies and raiders and feeding a little girl.
Meet Teddy. Meet Baghead and Delfino. Meet Rex and Ray and Lorraine. Meet the utterly lost who look for meaning in humanity's fading glow.
The Scattered and the Dead was a series that was handed to me while I waited - a little less than patiently - for the final installment of their previous series, Awake in the Dark. The Scattered and the Dead's first installment, cleverly named Book 0.5, was the story of a post apocalyptic world vividly described through the eyes of an agoraphobic male, Decker. In book 1.0, we discover why the title of the first book in the series is so wonderfully apt, and it's only the beginning of the intertwining story lines that lay ahead.
The Scattered and the Dead spreads across a time frame of several years, centered around a plague that turns the living into zombies. Following the journey of several protagonists, this audacious story brings each character's account to life chapter by chapter, delicately weaving each tale of survival; of existence. Through separate portrayals, the character's bring a different perspective on life before, during and after the rumored plagues surfaced. In sheer fights of primal survival and determination to simply continue living, readers follow each story line, slowly piecing together the puzzle of this fictional world.
A cocky televangelist. Two young girls out on their own. A death-obsessed outcast. A drug addicted wimp. All are characters dealing with their own problems in this new world, but possibly the most heart wrenching; the story to get you right in the feels, is that of a father trying to ensure his two boys are safe. Agonizing moments of self doubt coupled with the anxiety of how he will keep his children safe, Mitch's chapters are devastatingly real. If you're expecting a tale of the dead eating the living, this book is so much more, and it is one hundred times more meaningful.
Once again, in the perfectly eloquent way that this writing duo does, characters we are forced to love scream out from the pages in the typical McBain and Vargus manner that has us all laughing and cringing all at once. Don’t think for a moment that their newest novel doesn’t pack a punch in the sickly department. Black ooze; thick blood; hard, crusted vomit; all are back with a vengeance, and it is magical. Characters in McBain/Vargus novels find meaning in the smallest details whether it be leftover meatloaf or the darkness created by silence lingering in the distance. Every moment impacts greatly on each character's life in a way that will steal you away from your life to enter into this desperate world for as long as you are willing.
Another characteristic, daring and thrilling novel by two writers who continue to surprise their readers. If there is one series you take a chance on this year, this is it.