Title: Assumed Dead
Author: Becky Black
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 269 Pages
At a Glance: I’m a sucker for a good zombie apocalypse book. The focus was different than what I had expected, but I found myself immensely enjoying the story all the same.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: The zombie apocalypse left twelve people trapped, but safe, at a scientific research base on an Arctic island. Three years later, with supplies critically low, they know they can’t survive another harsh winter. But all of them fear what awaits them on the mainland.
Former grad student Matt Warner has retrained as a nurse under the group’s doctor, Peter Lane. Training is not the only thing Matt wants to be under Peter for, but Peter has always resisted responding to Matt’s interest in him. Before all this started Peter had a husband, Harrison, back home. A husband he desperately hopes is still alive.
Despair finally weakens Peter’s resolve and he and Matt begin sharing a bed. It’s Matt’s dream come true, even if he knows Peter’s feelings for him aren’t as strong as his for Peter. But everything changes when the group learns of the existence of a vaccine against the zombie virus and they escape the island to search for the people distributing the vaccine. Matt fears their relationship won’t survive, because Peter wants to search for his husband–even if only to confirm his death. And Peter knows if he goes looking for Harrison, he’ll lose Matt forever.
Review: To start with, this book takes place in the post-apocalyptic world of Patient Z, but, in itself, is a stand-alone; though readers get a little taste of Mitch and Cal. I personally haven’t read Patient Z, but I have already purchased it and plan on remedying this immediately.
I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a good zombie apocalypse book. The focus was different than what I had expected, but I found myself immensely enjoying the story all the same. What I mean by this is that the story surprisingly has very few zombies, especially the first half.
When the zombie apocalypse happened, a group of twelve scientists were on an island in the Artic, far away from the danger. They were aware of what was happening as they received communications and listened from afar as the world they knew crumbled around them. Flash forward three years and they are still surviving, but possibly not much longer. The frigid conditions around them do not support farming in any fashion, and they have already diminished what little sources of energy they had around them, to the point it won’t be long before they have to rely on caribou dung for fuel—and that won’t be enough to maintain. Quite simply, their supplies, which they stocked up on for two years before the apocalypse hit, are disappearing with no real way to replenish them. When news of the vaccine from a radio communication from another group of survivors is heard, they make the choice to go look for the group that has the vaccine and, hopefully, find a way to rebuild with other survivors.
Matt, originally at the island as a climatologist, retrained as a nurse when it was clear that the world had little need of his specialty. He trained under Dr. Peter Lane, and during that time, fell in love with the kind yet distant man. Unfortunately for Matt, Peter still holds on to the hope his husband Harrison survived the zombies and would eventually be reunited. Even when Peter gives in to this growing feelings for Matt, he held tight to the possibility his husband was still alive. When the news of the vaccine takes them off the island, Peter can’t not look for his husband and confirm if he is alive or not. Matt understands, to some degree, Peter’s need, but at the same time knows if Harrison is found alive it would be the end of him and Peter. As the journey starts, Matt starts to feel like he is second choice and even if Harrison is dead, as assumed, what did that mean for him and Peter?
The characters were wonderfully fleshed out. Matt was a breath of fresh air with his naïveté and optimism despite their circumstances, his focus on the now and the future, the possibility of rebuilding, willing to be the first to jump in to help with anything with others. For many, he is a source of light in the darkness of their world. For others, they see his lack of cynical nature being a weakness when they don’t know what to expect once they leave the island. Peter on the other hand is cynical and analytical by nature. Having seen the worst of humanity, as a doctor he has learned to detach himself from emotion when making decisions, and is respected for his input as it is never without consideration of all facts.
The story focuses more on the survivors and their interactions, Peter and Matt’s at the forefront, but also on the other survivors and how the group of twelve survives from day to day. Although there are zombies, they are mostly on the peripheral, a reason they ended up where they are, and the reason the world is in the chaos it is in now.
I really appreciated how each of the survivors came from different countries with different backgrounds. It made for interesting reading on their interactions; how they made decisions and what they have had to sacrifice in order to live. No one will get along all the time, and there are different opinions to take into consideration. I appreciated the author’s detail on the intricate details of their sources and how they prepared/rationed literally everything from food, wood, heating, water etc., and how the group came together to discuss the topics and give others a chance to voice their concerns or ideas. There are obviously people who tend take more of a command than others, there are those that are confrontational by nature, and those that tend to listen and watch as things play out.
The world building I found very unique, and once they set out on their journey to find the vaccine, it was fascinating seeing how the different groups of survivors behaved and managed to survive the last three years. Some had it better than others, but as their journey progresses, they each brought something to the table. It is unfortunate that when certain decisions are made, they are made based on the value of the person’s skills or body. Though understandable, when the population is decimated and the rebuilding of life is needed, those who can continue humanity are coveted. Peter, as a doctor’s skills are considered to be the most precious, is always put in a position to remain safe and stay that way when danger breathes down their necks. Women of a certain age are valued for their ability to carry on humanity and are of extreme importance. They are also in the most danger from fellow survivor groups who would covet their skills and bodies. It’s people such as Matt, though young and virile and a nurse, who are forced to be more of a Soldier and Protector, not only from the zombies but from fellow humans who would wish to take what they want and use those people selfishly.
I found this story fascinating, and although I had expected a little more zombie action going on, I was not disappointed with the story I ended up reading.
You can buy Assumed Dead here: