Welcome to Wild Card Wednesday. When I started writing this post, my intent was to do one of my monthly What’s New posts. I was going to talk about a TV show and Blake Crouch’s new novel, Eerie.
But, then, I purchased Dead: Winter by TW Brown. That changed my plans all together.
I’ve talked before about my love of TW (Todd) Brown’s Dead series. The first three books are Dead: The Ugly Beginning, Dead: Revelations, and Dead: Fortunes and Failures.
The books are post apocalyptic zombie tales. Zombies have killed most of Earth’s human population. Surviving humans must redefine civilization and the laws of mankind.
The thing that sets Todd Brown’s series apart from all the other zombie novels is characterization. Todd does such a wonderful job of writing compelling characters and putting them in dire situations. His books are unputdownable.
Point in case, I started Dead: Winter on Sunday and finished it Monday.
Dead: Winter rejoins the various survivors’ camps as they prepare for the first winter after the zombie apocalypse.
Some of the survivors are pregnant, which is cause for concern in this new civilization. After all, zombies might attack at any time.
Some of the survivors are worried about having enough supplies to survive winter. Some survivors need medication for group members with special needs. Others are struggling with interpersonal conflicts between group members.
For those who haven’t yet tried the Dead series, now is a great time to dip your toes in the pool. Todd Brown has added ten thousand words of bonus material and repackaged the first three Dead novels.
To understand how these new editions are broken down, you first have to understand a bit about Todd Brown’s Dead world.
The story is told from many points-of-view, sort of like a TV show or a movie. As is true on teleplays and screenplays, one or two characters have more scenes than others. The character’s with the most scenes are the stars.
The stars of Todd Brown’s Dead novels are Steve Hobart and Kevin Dreon.
Steve Hobart is a thirty-something everyman from Seattle who has had a unremarkable life right up to the day the zombies take over. Something about a zombie apocalypse brings out the hero in Steve. He rescues a little girl whose mother has fallen victim to the zombies and then rescues a teenager at a convenience store.
From there, he flees Seattle and becomes leader of a rag-tag group that includes an ex-football star, a former nature commune member, a former Idaho state prison inmate, and a lovable Border Collie.
Kevin Dreon is the leader of the geeks. Before the apocalypse, he was a lifetime fan of all things zombie. He had plans of what he’d do if the zombie apocalypse hit. After the zombie apocalypse, Kevin figured out life ain’t the same as the movies.
The zombie apocalypse forces Kevin to adjust his thinking. To complicate matters, Kevin’s intellectual prowess has done little to advance his social skills both with his male peers and with the opposite sex. Lucky thing that some girls like geeks.
Between Steve and Kevin’s sagas, Todd Brown has these interludes he calls vignettes. Vignettes star a variety of characters. Here are a few examples of the vignette’s stars:
Juan Hoya: A homeless career criminal who is in the process of turning his life around at the time of the zombie apocalypse.
Chad Meyers: Did prison time after being falsely convicted as a sex offender. At the time of the apocalypse, he’s trying hard to reconnect with his teenage daughter.
Mackenzie Sims: Twenty-three-year-old college agriculture major. At the time of the apocalypse, she’s living on Sauvie Island with her bi-polar mother. The two women must fend not only zombies but also humans who are cutting a path of destruction and hurt in a world where the law is dead.
Kirsten Malloy: A little girl all alone in a big house where all the adults have turned into the walking dead. Kristen’s father always said Malloys were survivors, but will Kirsten survive being on her own in this new world?
Now, as with TV shows and movies, a really interesting scene starring your favorite character might end at a cliffhanger moment and cut to a scene with another character.
At the request of his fans, Todd Brown has re-arranged the first three books of his Dead series so that readers can travel the post-apocalyptic landscape on the shoulders of their favorite characters without interruptions from the other story lines.
So, if you want to read Steve Hobart’s story with no interruptions from the vignettes or the geeks story lines, you want
If you want to read the story of Kevin Dreon and his geek squad, you want
If you want to focus on the vignettes and their many stars and stories, you’re looking for:
Todd has also released a straight compendium of the first three novels, which tops out at a whopping 915 pages. The bonus material—all stuff requested by fans—is included in this compendium.
At $9.99, this compendium is a steal. Purchased separately and in their original editions, the first three books would cost a total of $13.97, and you wouldn’t even get the bonus material.
The books in their original format–as they are in the compendium–create a very suspenseful read because of the cutting between characters and situations. I am not a book-a-day reader, but I can finish an installment to the Dead series in a day.
If you are on the fence, do what I did. Download the sample. If you’re like me, you won’t be able to quit reading when the sample ends.
If you’re impressed with the cover art of the Dead series, check out the cover artist, Shawn Conn at his website.