"Siege: As the World Dies, Book Three" Book Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Published by Tor Books
Written by Rhiannon Frater
2012, 368 pages, Fiction
Released on April 24th, 2012
About a year ago, I started my venture into Rhiannon Frater's "As the Word Dies" zombiepocalypse series with The First Days. While the book was flawed, it was a fast read and enjoyable enough to look forward to its sequel Fighting to Survive. In that second novel, Frater showed she had grown some as an author, so when Siege—the final book in this trilogy—hit my door, I was looking forward to seeing how everything ended. What I didn't expect was the profound disappointment at the utter mess of a book in a series that showed so much promise.
One of the major problems the first two books have is our heroines Jenni and Katie are never in any danger. Frater handles the stars of her novels with kid gloves in both jeopardy of the life-threatening kind as well as relationship troubles. Everything always seems to work out for these two and the story suffers because of it. If there's no threat, there's no suspense. If there's no suspense, I care less about the characters because I know they'll always be safe in the cocoon Frater has created for them. And what happens to a few of the characters (including a main one) in Siege has got to be some of laziest and ridiculous writing I've seen in recent memory.
I have to admit, I almost gave Frater some credit this time. She actually kills off one of the main characters! When it happened, I was a little surprised. Not shocked, because by that point in the book I really didn't care who lived or died, but I was impressed that Frater actually balled up and did something that didn't just put one of her beloved creations in peril, but she actually offed them! A main one! One that wasn't created just to die. That impressed feeling was short lived, however, when the character comes back as a ghost to help her living friends in the epitome of deus ex machina. What. The. Fuck. Not only have ghosts not been a part of the series up to this point (other than the ones Jenni saw on occasion, but she was always a bit nutty, so that's just her mind playing tricks on her), but now we have ghosts coming back warning loved ones of impending doom and there's a new player in town that can see and communicate with them like some sort of two-bit ghost whisperer. Jesus Christ. It's bad enough when you are reading a book and you know nothing horrible will ever happen to the characters, but when you pile on the fact that when something finally does happen, it's okay because they'll stick around in an ethereal form, it's just crap writing, plain and simple. Especially when this garbage is just introduced in the final chapter of a series.
If that wasn't enough, Frater seemingly decided sometime between Fighting to Survive and Siege that she was tired of writing a horror novel and instead wanted to concentrate on her tween romance skills. Siege is an emotional train wreck. I'm not talking about the kind of book that plays on your emotions, either. I'm talking about the fact that every character cries or expresses their love to their significant other at the drop of the hat. If you are one of those that hated season two of The Walking Dead because you felt it was too much chitchat and not enough zombies, I would suggest not even flipping through this because that season of The Walking Dead has nothing on the insipid melodrama found in the pages of Siege. I don't think I would have been so irritated if the relationships within the book were at least realistic, but I'm not that lucky. They are the fantasy of what a woman who reads too many romance novels wants a relationship to be. Or what that friend of yours who has never had a boyfriend or girlfriend believes what being in a relationship is like. According to the characters in Siege, a normal relationship is when you are up your significant other's ass telling them how much you love them every moment you are together. THIS IS NOT WHAT I CARE ABOUT WHEN I'M READING ABOUT A GODDAMN ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE.
If you haven't noticed, the book was a bit disappointing. Honestly, I would have given up on it if I hadn't read the prior two. I can even tell you the exact moment I would have stopped. There's a part where Nerit—quite possibly the coolest cat in the series—is told by her husband (IN GHOST FORM...Christ) that she has bone cancer and she was supposed to die when he did, but for whatever reason she lived. Immediately after hearing this news, she collapses to the ground and is rushed to the infirmary where she passes time in a coma. Don't worry, it's not a spoiler because she wakes up cancer free. You know that part I keep complaining about, the part about characters never being in danger? There you go. One gets goddamn cancer and just sleeps it off.
And I'm not even going to get into how the survivors fend off an attack of 30,000 zombies with like only six casualties. Or how Frater still reminds you at every opportunity that she's a fan of Romero. We get it, you like zombie movies, move on.
As a whole, Siege is pretty much awful and incredibly disappointing compared to the two that led up to this final installment. There are still glimpses of eloquence in Frater's writing found in the pages of this book—like a touching moment where a widower is dealing with the loss of a loved one—but not nearly enough to save it from being the mess that it is. I suppose the Twilight audience will eat this up, as well as people who have no clue how a real relationship works or those that think (wish) that all men are so sensitive they will cry at the drop of a dime and express their love every three minutes. But the rest of you adults will do your best to stay far, far away.
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