In a world of mindless zombies, eccentric hillbillies, deadly skill sets, and endless loyalty to the people you’ve survived beside, Daniel Greene has carved out an exciting apocalyptic series that stands head and shoulders above other offerings in the zombie genre.
In The Breaking, the sequel to End Time, readers are dropped back into the world of Steele, Mauser, and Gwen, as well as a United States that has fallen under the weight of a zombie onslaught. Multiple narrative perspectives provide readers with a three-dimensional picture of this harsh new world, which constantly borders on insanity. Death lies around every corner, making each conversation, decision and turn of the page a tense, potentially deadly moment.
Despite imbuing every page with this suspense, Greene also fleshes out his characters from the first book in meaningful ways, pushing readers’ investment deeper, and making it more and more difficult to ignore how good this series truly is. His descriptions are vivid and visceral, woven seamlessly into action scenes and exposition alike. Greene also puts the savage side of human nature on full display, providing a strange and twisted mirror to the hordes of the undead.
The situations that Daniel Greene forces his characters into often seem hopeless, but this is not a depressing or pessimistic book. Instead, as we follow the different narratives, particularly in the brutal wilderness of West Virginia, the resilience of the living is downright inspiring. The new characters introduced in this book are just as unique and compelling as the core characters from End Time and each character is relatable and engaging. Steele reaffirms his place as an action hero who is easy to root for, as he does whatever it takes to survive, and to protect his people.
Greene clearly did his homework on military strategy and the likely scenarios that would play out if a zombie outbreak were to take place. What can typically be expected in a series like this is pure chaos, with enough action to sate the appetite of most readers, and a comparatively low level of detail and precision. The author bucks that trend well, putting far more meat into the story and the characters than most readers will expect.
The writing itself has sharp edges and a consistent tone, from the dialogue and the bleak descriptions to the matter-of-fact retelling of bloody violence. In a world dominated by soulless monsters, that level of dispassionate horror works exceptionally well. That being said, the use of italicized thoughts or internal monologues is slightly heavy-handed throughout the book, breaking the “show, don’t tell” rule of writing. Generally, the prose is clean, error-free, and stylish. With a minor editing polish, this book would go from great to flawless in a heartbeat.
Featuring a fast-moving plot, incredibly high stakes, and a compelling cast of complex characters, The Breaking is a tour de force in the zombie apocalypse niche, and Greene deserves to have a legion of hungry new fans after this latest installment.
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