I was kindly given a free ARC of this book by the author, with the option to write an honest review.
My apologies to Ashley for the delay in reading the book and writing the review, I found it hard to get through books I’d received around the time of my sister’s passing.
No way to leave.
At Second Chance Animal Hospital, the confinement, tension, and fear will change the employees into monsters, worse than the undead zombie dogs scratching on the doors trying to get in. Sydney and the other techs will learn secrets about each other and battle their own demons, all while trying to stay alive. They will turn on each other, fall out of love, and make sacrifices no one sees coming.
Can they pull together enough to survive, or will they be picked off one by one?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It’s been a while since I read a zombie story, and I like the idea of zombie dogs (who doesn’t!) so I was intrigued by this book.
The book focuses on the lives of the staff in an Animal Hospital during a zombie apocalypse that affects only humans and dogs.
The book is in third person (which I already prefer) however it’s in present tense, which for me is very jarring. I never find present tense works as well as past tense, but that is a very personal preference for me. The author does keep to present tense – I’ve read books where authors flip-flopped between the tenses but that doesn’t happen here, which makes for easier reading.
There is quite a large number of characters for a short book (118 pages) and we are actually given personal points of view for six of them. I found this to be too many for such a short read, I didn’t feel connected to any of these people as I was stretched thin through each of their heads.
From the blurb, it feels like Syndey is the main character, but having five other main characters as well each given equal time, I didn’t get the sense she was meant to be the predominant main character until closer to the end of the book.
The author definitely wanted to give an overarching view of how different people react to such a situation and I think that could have still worked with maybe four points of view.
The book starts slow, the first two chapters, almost nothing happens and it’s extremely heavy in description about the rooms and layout of the hospital that I found clogged the story. I didn’t feel drawn into this book until around chapter 7.
The characters are described but all very quickly to the point where I couldn’t remember what any of them really looked like by the middle of the book.
When the action regarding zombies happens, it seems rushed and confusing. I feel like they could have been introduced by the end of chapter one. As someone who has watched her fair share of zombie movies, I was surprised at some of the lack of reaction.
This included almost nothing being mentioned about locking or barricading doors and windows until several days had passed (maybe they did do this, but it wasn’t mentioned). No one remembered they had personal guns until several days had passed. Very little discussion about the situation in general, especially no real detailed discussions with the police officer who ends up with the group and knows more of what’s happening. Almost no sounds of people outside being chased, banging on the door for help etc.
At first, I thought the hospital must be set away from civilisation but later we see a police station and houses are pretty close by. So surely some people would have survived or been trying to flee past the hospital, but I didn’t see any of this.
I found the overall zombie apocalypse to be quite a letdown in the story, there definitely could have been more done with this. I would have liked to have seen characters watching them, studying them, even recognising them. Maybe the horror of seeing them picking at bodies or walking on broken legs etc. It seemed more of a backdrop to a drama about the people inside the Animal Hospital.
The characters were given some interesting backstories that allowed me to realise why they were each acting the way they were during this situation as it unfolded. This definitely helped flesh out the characters, and I especially liked Tiffany’s character who seemed to have the most interesting backstory.
The characters who had children seemed a little stilted as I never really got much sense they were that overwhelmed with panic for what might have happened to their children, especially Lynn.
I think Sara’s development was the best, her character changed the most and created a lot of strong conflict through the story.
I do think since there were multiple main characters and lots of the scenes were about the group in the hospital just trying to survive, that more deep dialogue would have been useful. It didn’t come across that they were that overwhelmed or panicked a lot of the time.
The first half of the book felt underused, it was slow to start and then when the staff first learnt about the zombies it felt brushed over, with very few questions being asked. Then the second half of the book then felt a little rushed.
When the action started to get more intense and the danger and paranoia rose it definitely became better paced and I was drawn in enough to want to know how it would end.
I really wanted to like this book but, for me, I feel it fell quite flat. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters enough to care about their situation. I also wasn’t drawn in enough especially at the start and there was definitely missed opportunities to use the zombies more and to really crank up the tension and fear.
Author: Ashley Nicole (Website)
Length: 118 pages
Availability: Out now – Buy from Amazon.com