Book Review — Taking on the Dead

Title:  Taking on the Dead
Author:  Annie Walls
Genre:  Post-apocalyptic with zombies
Format:  E-book
Opening Lines:  "Some people say you can't change overnight.  I'm sure this is true."
Author Links: Website   ♠   Twitter   ♠   Facebook

"Life for Kansas was perfect until the day the world changed.

"She has been hiding out for four years in solitude. It's the only way to survive. The only way not to draw the living dead. Helping a small group of people, she learns the new world might not be what she assumes. Venturing out of her refuge and comfort zone, she meets Rudy, who helps her find a greater purpose. She realizes that the world has moved on without her. Only it's not what she expects. Her knowledge of the living dead grows and only makes her more curious as humanity continues to hang on by a thread. While on her search for answers she finds comfort in new friendships and love, but her past seems as if it will haunt her forever.

"Kansas takes it upon herself to help other survivors, which would be easy if the famished were the only obstacles.

"In a trilogy plot thick with twists and turns, this adult dark fantasy is emotional as much as it is horrifyingly gripping."

~ Goodreads

Thoughts: Sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday of last week, I finally finished this book. Since then, I have been trying to figure out how best to approach and write this review. The first time I saw this novel was on an ad for a book tour. Being a zombie apocalypse book, I was very quick to jump at the opportunity to read it. Unfortunately, despite my love, I really did not enjoy the book. The reason is because this book completely failed. And it failed spectacularly!

At first, I had high hopes for this book. Reading through the prologue, I was fairly impressed. It was very powerful, gave a wonderful opening for the story, and did a good job of showing how the zombie apocalypse can seemingly come out of nowhere to disrupt a perfect life. At this point, I started to notice a few extraneous commas, improper placement of punctuation, etc. However, since it could be easily explained as a typo, I didn’t think too much of it. That is not to say that it didn’t put me on alert. As the book progressed, I started to have issues with the voice. It can be very hard to write in first person present active; however, the author manages to pull it off. That being said, something about Kan’s voice was very troubling. Unfortunately, I still cannot quite put my finger on it. And, while the narration was bothering me, I started to notice that the grammar issues continued to get worse. It evolved from a few mishaps into the author’s haphazard attempt at throwing in punctuation because it seemed appropriate. She started doing clause fragments. (Keep in mind, this is not a technical term; it is one I coined to describe her errors.) Further into the book, I started to wonder whether she understood what adjectives, series, and multiple adjectives to describe a noun really were. It is hard to describe fully what she did; however, if I had not known what she was doing, this book would have been hard to understand. Unfortunately, comma misusage can seriously change the meaning of a sentence.

Aside from the author’s haphazard and willy-nilly approach to grammar, she had grievous issues with consistency. On one page, she would oscillate between “t-shirt” and “T-shirt.” Unless the author was trying to write within a certain style, I do not care how she chose to spell T-shirt. My issue stems from lack of consistency. Decide how you want to spell the word and keep to it. Even if the word was misspelled, if she consistently used the same spelling, I would not be as annoyed.

While the author’s grammatical errors were egregious, this book also suffered from an obvious lack of content editing. I felt there were a lot of things that Kan did in the later part of the book that were completely out of character with the original girl the audience met. In most books, this can be explained by character development; however, there was no true character development. Further, at one point, Rudy makes it clear that he worked as a contractor before the zombie outbreak. If the reader continues reading, Kan makes a comment that helping at the greenhouse made sense due to his carpentry background. Where did Rudy ever say he had a carpentry background? Working construction does not guarantee you have that as a background. In addition, I cannot fully grasp Kan’s need to carry around a computer. Granted, her computer used to connect via satellite; however, it might not be able to connect at other locations outside of her home base. Further, if some person manages to get the Internet up and running, why would she suddenly have access to wireless? This makes no sense to me. Even my husband, who has worked as a systems administrator for over a decade, could not understand the rationale behind this.

If the author had mentioned “arrow holster” one more time, I would have broken my husband’s Kindle. Anything that is used to hold arrows is considered a quiver. The fact that her quiver is larger than others and made out of a gift container for a bottle of wine does not automatically make it something other than a quiver. This really got on my nerves. Another thing was her explanation of bows. Yes, long bows are fairly old; however, a recurve bow predates them by more than a millennium. In addition, a recurve bow was desired for its power and the energy it put into the arrow. Long bows were more desired for range and the fact that they worked well en mass.

Along with the bows, the author really needed to do her homework when it came to guns. Yes, a grip is one of the most important things in determining the correct gun. However, her comment about making sure the person could use the slide very fast isn’t accurate. You need to be able to move the slide smoothly and have a good grip. Further, the weight of the gun also needs to be considered when finding the right weapon. And Kan’s adventure with the sawed off shotgun was fully inside the realm of fiction. Yes, because of the shortened barrel length, a sawed off shotgun will have a nasty recoil—and will more than likely bruise your shoulder. However, it will not knock you off your feet and send you several feet in the air. Well, I guess it will if you’re on the receiving end of the spray.

When talking to Reece about her book collection, Kan pooh-poohs The Jolly Roger’s Cookbook by stating that it wouldn’t be able to teach them how to make things like pipe bombs because it is too old. This could have changed in the last decade; however, when I was still a teenager, the book was not static; people kept adding to it. And, at the time, it had recipes for making pipe bombs. Further, Kan tells Reece that they can get better books by looting bookstores. So, by the author’s logic, I can walk into a Barnes & Noble and purchase a book on advanced bomb making (and, of course, making a simple pipe bomb is extremely advanced bomb making).

It stuck out to me that Reece—in a time period where infection is easy, antibiotics are not easy to come by, and an open wound could possibly mean zombie infection—doesn’t take the time to cover his new tattoo. Yes, the ointment is important; however, a fresh tattoo is still an open wound and susceptible to infection. This really upset me because I have multiple tattoos. It seems to me that a tattoo artist would be extremely vigilant about that, especially during a zombie apocalypse.

Honestly, Kan is zombie bait. The only reason she has survived is because she was alone and then surrounded by men that would take care of her. She can only handle a pistol crossbow and her few blades. She talks about not being overly accurate with a full-sized crossbow, she is not able to handle a regular bow (a compound bow), and cannot find the safety on a gun. I honestly wondered why she was put in charge of a group. Further, aside from the few she dealt with on her way to the survivor camp, she had no experience with the famished. Someone like Reece would have made far more sense. I cannot stand a heroine who has to rely on male characters to keep her alive. If the characters acted as partners and relied on each other, I could easily accept that. However, I am sick and tired of seeing these supposedly strong female leads that cannot take care of themselves. Half of the things Kan does to get herself in trouble are simply because she lacks common sense or forethought. Her use of the Molotov in Wal-Mart is a perfect example of this. It would not have taken her two seconds to figure out it was an extremely stupid idea.

I do not understand why Kan was so hell bent on bringing Julie with her. It made no sense. Further, how would a woman who is eight months pregnant be able to fit on the back of a Ducati? If she was able to (which I sincerely doubt), how would Kan keep her from getting off the bike? It would have made more sense to leave Julie, reunite with the gang, tell them the information she learned from the doctor, and then plan another strategy to gain entrance into the base. In addition, since the doctor knew about the impending attack (because Kan was too stupid not to tell Julie next to the playground), I don’t understand why extra security measures were not taken. Further, I am not sure how a few pipe bombs were able to breach the walls. I have to wonder whether the author really knows what pipe bombs are for. Using them against zombies is a pretty good idea. They are shrapnel bombs meant to inflict as much damage to a person as possible.

The author’s constant obsession with the “happy trail” was enough to make me gag. I understand being in isolation for four years will cause a girl’s libido to spike when they’re around a sexy man; however, it was over the top.

There is a lot more I could address in this review, but it has gotten to be quite long. Needless to say, when I finished this book, I was very disappointed. To me, it is the perfect example of why I dislike self published pieces. Granted, there are some wonderful things out there! Unfortunately, a lot of people are in a rush to get their novels published because they think it is good and they completely forego editing. I’m sorry, but there is a reason for the process. I will give the author a little credit, she has the bare bones of something that could potentially be a good story. However, she needs to go through several revisions and rewrites. Honestly, by just having some friends and/or family read it to see if it made sense, a lot of her issues would not have appeared in the final book. Further, if she decided to completely turn her nose up at the editing process, I wish she would have spent a little time researching things and rereading her story before it was made available to the public. As it stands, this book is a long way from a polished work of fiction. That being stated, I will end up reading the other books in the series. However, I hope for her benefit—as well as that of her audience—she will seriously look into getting her next books edited.

Current Pages: 13,343
Current Progress:

43/50 books

Much love, Sinn

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"If you’re a freak like me, Wave your flag! If you’re a freak like me, Get off your ass! It’s our time now, To let it all hang out!" I am a recovering English major, closet bibliophile, breve addicted, zombie lover with a rockabilly and heavy metal fetish. Registered & Protected