Thursday, October 9, 2014

Grey's Anatomy meets The Walking Dead

Operation Z-Day Review by Kurt Schuett (Amazon 4 Stars) 

Amazon $0.99

The first bravo I wish to extend to author Dennis Larsen is job well done in the creation of a strong female protagonist, Raven Falconer. I realize the recent trend and popularity in creating female protagonists in the action-adventure genre, especially in the apocalypse-dystopian sub-genre, but too many of the zombie-apocalypse stories available to readers lack strong female protagonists. And since this particular one happens to be a writer, I really connected well with her. One of my favorite quotes in the novel states, “An author’s ability to create, as well as destroy, had left a lasting impression with the young Raven, and she'd held nothing back in expressing her desires to her father.” The aforementioned quote is a powerful indication of not only the main character’s resilience but also of a thematic link all readers can equally relate to. Consequently, Dr. Larsen has also constructed a strong group of secondary characters that motivate, fortify, and extend the actions of the book’s protagonist, Raven—close friends and roommates to the bitter end, Bobi, Mick, and Hannah.

One of Dr. Larsen’s strengths as a writer is his ability to characterize, as I’m quite certain all of his readers will agree. Personally, I enjoyed the lead-up through Operation Z-Day’s rising action, especially when the reader was able to become more intimate with the thoughts, actions, and dialogue presented from the primary cast’s varying backgrounds and perspectives. One of my favorite introductions was to that of Ziggy, a colorful police officer who will undoubtedly play a more significant role per book two of The Raven Falconer Chronicles.

One aspect I hope readers don’t misinterpret as a caveat is the book’s length. Even though Operation Z-Day is on the shorter side, the story has multiple plots running through it. Yes, the crux may be an unconventional zombie apocalypse due to an airborne virus, but the author underlies the aforesaid with Raven’s internal conflict—a crucible of individualistic proportions. Raven must trade in her selfless optimism for realistic gut-wrenching self-preservation. As author Dennis Larsen personifies her as a “fiercely independent survivor,” Raven Falconer is a force to be reckoned with.

Since this story takes place in real-time Canada, that was another fantastic wrinkle I enjoyed; Mr. Larsen accentuated the experience with quality local color realism, highlighted with dialect and mannerisms that are characteristic of life above the United States’ northern border. Other things most readers should find appealing include Larsen’s creation of cannibalistic “huskers” (readers will have to digest the book in order to truly appreciate this label) who take on the role of uncharacteristic undead, able to hold onto some familiar memories and feelings while capable of methodical and systematic plotting.

Most of the horror element in this book is subtle, but what smash-and-dash violence that is provided is detailed and exciting. Subsequently, Larsen’s pacing is spot-on as he provides enough complications and crises that are not even zombie-related to keep readers on their toes.

The only forewarning I would extend is to readers who hold enmity toward overly-sympathetic threads, as this particular book has a few that border clich√©. Even with that said, readers who enjoy this particular genre undoubtedly expect some degree of formula, which may in fact work towards the author’s advantage in terms of book sales.

If you are looking for a solidly written and fast-paced apocalyptic read, look no further than Operation Z-Day. At .99 cents per e-book, this is a solid investment that should hook you into reading its sequel.