by Sarah Gray
Series: Arcadium #1
Publication date: August 13th 2012
Source: Personal purchase
What is Arcadium? Florence knows but she’s not telling anyone, and it could just be the key to the survival of the human race.
Sixteen-year-old Florence West must journey across a disease ravaged Melbourne with her nine-year-old sister Liss, and she’ll do anything to survive. Mostly that means staying clear of all people, the healthy ones on the run and the infected ones hungry for human flesh. But when she meets a man that speaks no English and a defiant set of brothers, Florence will be forced to question her ways. Because there’s only so far you can go alone, right?
Arcadium is a heart-stopping journey of hope across a ravaged urban land where survival always comes at a heavy price.
Who would’ve guessed that a book with such a pretty cover would contain horror and zombies? I first learned about this author from a guest post she did over at The Bookish Brunette called Choose Your Own Adventure Zombie Apocalypse! I loved the style of the interactive post and decided to buy the book immediately. Obviously I was very anxious to read it because that was only about two weeks ago and I made darn sure I left an opening in my schedule to read it. Sarah Gray did not disappoint. I didn’t just read it, I devoured it in less than a day.
Florence and her younger sister, Liss — smack-dab in the middle of the zombie apocalypse — head out in search of a safe haven, each armed with a backpack filled only with essential items. They carry no weapons other than a lighter and aerosol can, but even that is a last resort option. They are smarter than the average post-apocalyptic pair, calculating and stealthy, remaining hidden whenever possible. Florence and Liss never used to get along. In fact, when their parents split up, they each chose a side and lived apart — Florence with their mom, Liss with their dad. Regardless of their differences, Florence takes it upon herself to be everything for her younger sister. They have no idea where their parents are, and have to assume they are out wandering around with the rest of the flesh-eating zombies looking for their next feed. The sisters journey out alone as they leave their dad’s home. Florence is not one to trust easily and doesn’t want a group of people to slow them down or get them killed. That is until they meet Trouble. It’s a nickname they give the super smiley Chinese fella they encounter along the way because it’s the only word of English he knows. It’s a good word to know during the zombie apocalypse. 😉 Florence decides to let him head in the same direction, not willing to acknowledge that he’s becoming part of their group at first. As he grows on Liss, though, Florence decides that yeah… she kind of likes him, too. Not long after, they meet a pair of teenage brothers, Kean and Henry, who are about the same ages as Florence and Liss, and they too end up joining forces at the insistence of Liss. Henry is in a wheelchair, which makes things especially difficult. How did the boys survive for so long with such a handicap – literally?!? No one knows where Florence is taking them, but they trust her to get them to safety, as she consistently proves herself to be a leader. They have some heart-stopping misadventures along the way, but finally make it to their destination – but is it really the sanctuary Florence had hoped for?
We all know that it’s difficult to find a really good zombie novel that isn’t the same as every other one we’ve read. It all comes down to the characters. If an author can make us fall for the characters, the story is usually a success, and Sarah Gray does just that. Florence is a strong heroine, especially for being sixteen. She is smart, always able to think on her feet, and tough, both physically and emotionally, when she needs to be. Liss, though only nine-years-old, quickly follows her sisters lead, learning the ways of this new type of survival. Now, Trouble.. he is one of my favorite characters, which says a lot about the phenomenal writing ability of Sarah Gray. Trouble hardly says a word, because he doesn’t know any English, but his personality is so bright that you can’t help but love him to pieces. Kean and Henry are your typical brothers, always poking at each other, but you can tell they have mad love for one another. Of course, there are villains in this story, too, and I don’t just mean the zombies!
Although this is a character-driven book, there are some seriously intense scenes to make this awesome tale into the complete zombie package it needs to be. Florence and her group get into some sticky situations, so intense that I actually bit one of my nails down so far that I can’t type with it right now, it hurts like a mother! The great thing about this book is that it’s not filled with a bunch of useless gore, just to make it into the horror/zombie genre. The plot is reasonably paced, and the world-building is gradual and realistic. I was able to easily imagine being in their situation and visualize their surroundings. Even though I have never been to Australia, it all became very familiar — further evidence of Sarah Gray’s superb writing talent.
I am so happy I took a chance buying this book from an author I hadn’t heard of before. It was one of the best purchases I’ve made this year. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series! Arcadium is one that I highly recommend to fans of the zombie genre.
About the Author
Born and raised in New Zealand, Sarah Gray spent her teenage years in Australia, where she raced go-karts, studied graphic design and then sports management, before deciding that all along she’d just wanted to be a novelist. After studying professional writing and editing in Melbourne, Sarah ended up in England where she now resides in the ever rainy Lake District working as an outdoor activity instructor and writing in her spare moments.
Sarah’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
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