Author: Nicholas Kinsley
Publisher: Forbidden Fiction
Pages/Word Count: 256 Pages
At a Glance: This might possibly be the greatest zombie book I’ve read. Ever.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: The zombies have arrived, and Blaine needs to escape. He’d always thought of his London neighborhood as a place of safety, but then his infected neighbors tried to eat him. Blaine packed a bag and fled through growing numbers of shambling, voracious monsters–people, he had to remind himself, they’re people–toward his family in Bristol. He would surely have died without the turn of luck that brought him Commander Andrew Peterson. Together, they face the horrors and adversities of the apocalypse, trying to protect their loved ones, and—if they’re lucky—find love for themselves.
Review: There are books you read and love, and there are books you love so much you want to hug them when you finish them as if they had come to life and were suddenly living people. Love Is for the Living is one such book. The blurb for this book just doesn’t do it justice. The book is so rich, the characters so complex, and that just isn’t portrayed in the blurb. But hey, lucky for me I’m reviewing the book and not the blurb itself.
The zombies seem to arrive overnight, and Blaine is completely unprepared. When he becomes separated from his friends, he decides he needs to get home to his mum and make sure she is safe. But when he runs into Merrick, who takes the college student under his wing, he might have a fighting chance. Andrew, on the other hand, is prepared to fight and kill. He’s been trained his whole life to follow orders, but when those orders get the ones he love most killed, he can’t stand for it anymore and runs. When Blaine nearly runs him over, the two are thrown together, for better or for worse, and need to learn to trust each other in a world that’s completely falling apart. And maybe, just maybe, there will be a chance for love and redemption in there.
This book is phenomenal. I mean, honestly, I loved it so much I couldn’t put it down and at one point was shoveling popcorn into my mouth in a frenzy, along with the pace of the story, because I was just so hyped up. So to portray everything that’s right about it, I’m just going to make a list.
First, there are the characters. They’re so realistic. And by that, I don’t just mean the dialogue. I mean they are real people with real quirks and faults that make them human and not just stock characters in a romance novel. I adored Blaine and Andrew, and what makes them perfect is their imperfections. Neither one is drop dead gorgeous, which, let me tell you, was a breath of fresh air. While they find each other attractive, the descriptions are of realistic men. Andrew is tall, and with his hair short, his ears stick out too much. Blaine is tall and lanky, with bony elbows and knees. He has a monobrow that he hates and body hair he doesn’t like, but there’s nothing he can really do about this during the end of the world. I mean what’s the point, right? Grooming? Nobody has time for that when you’re busy picking off zombies coming for your family. But that’s why I loved them. They were ordinary men thrown into a difficult situation, and not drop-dead gorgeous models.
Second, the realism of the situation. I know that might sound strange, but bear with me. Nicholas Kinsley does not shy away from the odors of the apocalypse, and I’m not talking about the rotting corpses outside the door. I mean the people. Without clean water, they don’t shower. There is no magic button that makes them scent free with clean clothing. No, these men and women don’t have the luxury of bathing, and they rarely get the opportunity to wash their clothing. Heck, when they go out on raids, they get excited when they find shaving cream and razors, and Blaine ends up sporting a beard at one point because he doesn’t have access to anything for a long time. Also refreshing? The ladies in the group make sure to point out their needs, and send the men out for tampons and toilet paper (I’m sorry but this had me rolling, because it was just awesome to see it not glossed over). When Andrew and Blaine get down to it, they’re dirty. Neither has really washed in months, but they’re not squeamish about it because their desire for each other is strong. Also, end of the world here, people. And you want to talk about privacy for things? Forget it. Not going to happen, which was the cause for a few amusing moments.
Next, the tedium. Not everything is high action, which might sound like it’s boring, but honestly it wasn’t. After being chased by hunters and crawlers, it was nice to see Blaine and Andrew just sit on the roof, watching walkers stumble around below them. As they get to know each other and their companions, readers get to know them, too. Just as they enjoyed the down time, I did as well. Watching Andrew slowly open up and reveal his past, and Blaine grow into a strong man rather than the terrified teen Merrick saved, was a treat because Kinsley does it with skill.
The plot of this novel is carefully constructed with a fair balance between the highs and the lows. Character is revealed bit by bit. The relationship between Andrew and Blaine slowly builds. They don’t fall instantly in love, they don’t jump into bed together, and they don’t do any of the things typical romance heroes do. They’re attracted to each other, yes, but they are also thrown together in a situation that, had they passed each other on the street when life was not falling apart, they probably wouldn’t have even looked at each other for more than a few seconds before moving on. Maybe it’s because this book, at its heart, isn’t completely a romance. While it has romantic elements to it, it’s about people coming together to survive in a world gone to hell.
Clearly I adored this novel, and I can’t wait for my paperback copy to arrive so I can hug it and then put it on my shelf. I want to say everyone should read this novel (and you should), but the people who will be most interested are those who enjoy books with zombies, where difficult decisions must be made, and where ordinary men possibly fall in love under extraordinary circumstances.
You can buy Love Is for the Living here: