Friday, September 5, 2014
The Last Bastion of the Living
* spoilers *
The last remaining humans are gathered in one place, the Bastion. The undead Inferi scourge has taken over the rest of the world and humanity is left to struggle with rolling blackouts, food shortages, and overcrowding. Maria Martinez grew up there and dreams of more. She barely survived a previous battle with the undead and came through scarred and missing an organ or two. When the government handpicks her to be part of a secret mission to destroy the Inferi, she enthusiastically jumps on the opportunity. Unfortunately, not all the details were divulged to her and the scientists perform an experiment on her. In her altered state, Maria vows to see it through to the end and do all she can to help humanity. But if the government is willing to keep things from her, who knows what else they are keeping under wraps. Maria and her crew venture out into the Inferi wasteland as humanity's last hope.
I very much enjoyed most of this book. Rhiannon Frater knows how to craft a book and succeeds in creating a unique and vibrant world. The Bastion is the last hope for humanity, but space and resources are limited. Life barely resembles the past despite the more advanced technology. The valley that provided sources food, energy, and water is now overrun with zombies. The Bastion plus the barren valley of zombies makes for a bleak setting. Even bleaker is the government. They completely manipulate their people in this enclosed setting by withholding information and spreading their own propaganda. Unfortunately, many of the government officials were one dimensionally evil. The zombies were more interesting. They are unique in that they don't decay past their death. They appear as wounded people in need of help instead of the shambling cannibalistic corpses they are.
Hope comes in with Maria Martinez, kickass soldier. She knows what she wants and will make it happen no matter what. Even after the government violated her with an unwanted experiment, Maria sees that their goals align with hers and she chooses to go ahead with the plan, but makes sure all the other participants know what they are getting into before they agree. I found this admirable. I would have probably told them where to stuff it and left, but she improved the situation for others while still agreeing to help humanity on a larger scale. Despite her fears, doubts, and insecurities, she prioritizes humanity over her own needs. Dwayne, Maria's boyfriend, is also pretty cool. He is one of the best love interests I've seen in a while. While Maria is off on her secret mission, he is gathering as much information as he can to relay to her and trying to help on his end. Even after he finds out about the experiment, he doesn't burst him to save her like a white knight because he respects her decisions. He trusts and believes in her and doesn't make rash decisions because he thinks he knows best. This was so refreshing after the typical alpha male love interest that is so prevalent recently.
The last quarter of the book is where I had major problems. It's revealed that Maria received a different strain of the zombie virus and she eventually completely heals and turns human on her own. Even her missing organs grew back and then she became immortal. What??? The virus actually came from space and that makes it ok to use as a deus ex machina to do whatever the author wants. It doesn't really make sense that it creates zombies on one hand and then creates immortality on the other. No explanation is given. It's just something that comes at the end so ham-handedly and it completely ruined the book for me after all the fast paced zombie killing action, futuristic bleakness, and pretty awesome characters. I honestly wouldn't want to read the sequel because it will inevitably be about immortal Maria and immortal Dwayne (because of course the immortality is contagious) having immortal babies everywhere. Just not interested in that.
My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins