Saturday, September 29, 2012
Waiting for Daybreak
Frieda suffers from a slew of mental illnesses including anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and depression. She finds it hard to interact with people without being consumed by her inner dialog telling her she is being too extreme or not doing enough. When she becomes overwhelmed and extremely angry or sad, she turns it on herself and self mutilates, either by cutting or by burning herself with hot pans. The zombie apocalypse suddenly happens and she finds herself without any other sentient human for a year. Her problems with her mental illnesses also cease. Suddenly, on a quest to get medicine for her sick cat, she runs into another normal person, a man named Mike, who has similar problems pre-apocalypse as her. Frieda immediately feels an attraction to him, but she doesn't know much about him. Only time will tell if he is one in the parade of losers she knew before or if he is actually worthy of her affections.
Waiting for Daybreak is an unexpected read and puts a new spin on old tropes in the zombie genre. I was expecting just things I've seen before because I have read a lot of zombie books, but Amanda McNeil surprised me. Frieda quickly became one of my favorite zombie survivor heroines. She is smart, resourceful, and fiercely loyal to the people and things she cares about. I loved that she risked life and limb to get medicine for her cat. Many would say she should just let it die or eat it, but, at least for me, cats are family. So she gets major brownie points in my book for that. Her mental illnesses constantly make her doubt her feelings and actions, but after the zombies appear and eat everybody, they cease to bother her. The question of what is normal is a central one in this novel. Is she normal now that she is more like people were before the zombies? Or is she still abnormal because the majority of people are clamoring to eat each other's brains? Frieda is never portrayed as crazy despite her mental state sometimes and has a quirky personality that I immediately related to. It shows that people with mental illnesses are not defined by them and there are more to them than just that illness.
The first half of the book is showing Frieda's day to day life with her cat during the zombie apocalypse. She looks after her roof garden, kills the occasional zombie (who she calls the Afflicted) that comes her way, cooks food, fortifies her apartment, stuff like that. This part of the novel also offers glimpses of her life before and during the zombie apocalypse. It describes her last date that ended horrifically and the fact that she is only alive because she called in sick to work. It serves to let the reader know how she changed over time and fill in her background. Then she meets Mike. Attraction is instantaneous between them and they have a cute, slightly awkward romance because they both have their own emotional baggage. I want desperately for them to work out because I really like her and her last date ended in disaster. This relationship is the first she has even seen anyone and she's beginning to hope for the future.
I love the zombies (or the Afflicted). It's unclear what caused it. The news claimed it came from some sort of military facility, but it doesn't really matter because the effect remains. They start with a flu-like sickness and then crave brains, attacking whoever is closest. Pain and injuries don't phase them one bit and they are very resilient. What I find most creepy is that they still seem to keep some level of sentience. They can speak and even plead for help because of their hunger right before they attack and try to smash your brains. It makes me wonder how much they realize what they are doing and what their actual mental capacity is. Do they do that because they know they want to prey on sympathy or are they just doing it out of instinct because their hunger causes them pain? I would like to know more about these type of zombies.
Waiting for Daybreak is an amazing zombie read. The only thing I didn't like is the cover. It's a little generic and I think it might put people off. I read it in about a day because I couldn't put it down. I really want to know more about this world and about what happens next. I really really hope there is going to be a second book because if any story deserves a series, it is this one.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins