Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Dead and Empty World Part 3

* A Game of Firsts

Brother and sister Danny and Julie joke on the way home from a night out that a stumbling, seemingly drunk man is a zombie. They turn out to be completely correct and stay holed up in their house, waiting for rescue or their parents. Their lives turn upside down as they are forced to stay in their garage, rationing food and charging their phone by car in case their parents call. They have to be more selfish because resources are scarce. Danny and Julie start confiding each other more and more over time. At first, it's things like first kisses, but the past doesn't really matter anymore. They tell each other their secrets and deepest insecurities. Barriers simply fall away because it's unlikely they will survive.

One scene I particularly liked was when Julie encounters a zombie in her house as she gathers supplies. She sees a female zombie with a bra from Victoria's Secret that she almost bought. It hits home how much her life has changed. One day, she's worried about the comfort of a new bra and the next, she's hiding in her garage and rationing food for survival. Life before seems so trivial in the face of their dwindling chance of survival. This story is more of a character study and slice of life story than a plot driven one. I like the ending because it's not really an ending. Their fate is uncertain and their lives continue after the story is over.

* Hare Moon

This is my second favorite story of this anthology. This story follows Sister Tabitha as a young woman much different than we saw her in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. She's a lot like Mary: headstrong and critical of authority. As she's getting older, she's seeing the flaws in her society. She wants to know why rules are the way they are. Eventually she discovers that much of what she's taught are flat out lies. She keeps paying lip service to her duties and her faith, but she's consumed with thoughts of the others outside and a particular boy she has met beyond the gates.

Although well meaning, her actions lead to a catastrophic event in her home that forever change her. Sister Tabitha now sees why things are the way they are, why people are lied to in order to keep them safe. As seen in later years, she will always prioritize her society's safety over anything else. I never thought we would get this view of Sister Tabitha, but her character makes much more sense. She has her own regrets and sins that have shaped her into the awful person she was in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It was nice to see her vulnerable, hopeful side that wasn't afraid to push the rules and question authority.

My rating of the whole anthology: 5/5 fishmuffins

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