Friday, August 9, 2013

Review of 'Barely Alive' by Bonnie R. Paulson

Barely Alive (book #1)

In twelve weeks, seventeen-year-old Paul Ledger will be dead. At least he hopes so.

Paul is trapped in the worst cult the United States has ever seen. Infected with a zombie virus, symptoms culminate in a dead body but thriving mind over a course of twelve weeks. If he doesn’t earn the final death he longs for, he’ll be chained in a basement facility, moaning for human flesh for eternity.

Sent out to kidnap girls for food, toys, or whatever the boss wants, Paul nabs Heather McCain. He’s not a fan of humans as a general rule, but even his graying skin and insatiable hunger for her flesh don’t stop her from reaching out to him. Give him the second chance he doesn’t know he needs.

Overcome by his cravings, Paul bites her delectable skin. Amazingly, she doesn’t develop the zombie-like side effects. When the boss discovers Heather’s immunity, he gives Paul an ultimatum – deliver up Heather and her family to continue the research or watch as Paul’s brother suffers the zombie fate.

Paul has a chance to endure his short zombie existence knowing his brother is safe. But he’ll have to sacrifice Heather to do it.

**My thoughts**

I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into this series, even though I am not usually a fan of zombies. I really liked Bonnie's 'Into the End' dystopian series, so I was pretty confident that I would also enjoy this series.

The first thing that stands out in this introduction to the series is that the narrator, Paul, is actually the zombie. Most zombie apocalypse stories are told by the heroes, who are trying to save the day. Paul is actually a hero of sorts, who is trying to save the rest of the population. He is most concerned about his own immediate family. Then, there is that hottie girl that he picked up after she appeared to be immune to his bite. Now, more than ever, he wants to save himself. It's amazing that his brain is still intact, despite the debilitating virus. I think that is one of the more horrifying aspects of this book. Sure, zombies are creepy and can be scary. But, imagine being fully aware of what you are doing: tracking down humans to eat them. Essentially, it's a form of cannibalism, which grosses me out. You are also fully aware that you only have weeks left to live. That sense of immortality is yanked away, instead of that blissful submersion into a zombie no-man's land of ignorance.

The other side effect of this lovely virus is being insatiably horny. Usually, what you want to do is to rape and then eat all of the members of the opposite sex. This goes against your very core of values, especially because you are falling in love with the girl you have captured. Talk about resisting the sins of the flesh, times two! Resisting these temptations would be enough to make many men go mad, yet Paul has a strength about him that keeps him above the surface as he strategizes about what to do next. He is only 17 years old, but often sounds quite mature for his age. I often forgot how young he really is.

Paulson's background in science and medicine shines through as the characters discuss how and why the bad guys did what they did, and how the good guys just may be able to triumph after all. Thanks to some of the other characters not being of these backgrounds, all of the scientific jargon is explained again in a way that even the reader can understand. It all sounds so crazy, yet plausible at the same time. That is also frightening.

The book is considered young adult. While this one has scenes of zombies eating and mutilating people, and talk of being really horny, it isn't excessive. I would, however, still recommend it only to more mature YA readers on the older end of the spectrum, as opposed to younger readers who are just discovering the YA genre. Adults are also going to enjoy this series. I know I have been.  

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Falling Apart (book #2)

Days slip through Paul’s graying fingers. Humanity faces the end. His brother has the virus and is dying, too. Paul’s hopes ride on Heather’s genetic code. Her immunity leaves her unchanged and untouchable. What would she see in the zombie he was becoming anyway?

Dominic’s army of infected grows, capturing the south and leaving little alive in its wake.

While Paul and his friends work on the vaccine, protecting the north becomes protecting the world. Heather is taken hostage and Paul races toward Dominic to save his heart.

With his time “alive” shortened, Paul must do more than protect the uninfected. He has to get his brother and Heather back to Sandpoint before the zombies find them. Paul needs to survive the upcoming war before he finds himself defecting to the other side and leaving Heather to Dominic’s mercy.

He has three days to get the cure or he might as well find a fire to call home.

*This has mature themes and language. Not for young or pre-teens.*

**My thoughts**

This installment gets darker as more discussion and demonstration of the evils of the virus and its creator take place. I am glad that it states right in the description that it is not meant for younger readers, because it really isn't!

Paul has become the unwitting leader of his little group, and really has no idea what he is doing. I think that again, he demonstrates maturity as he continues to devise plots to save himself and his loved ones, and eventually the entire human race. He has some very difficult decisions to make, many of which are quite uncomfortable and go against the value system that he demonstrated in the first book. How much would you sacrifice of yourself for the greater good of mankind? Could you do it? I did find myself pondering these questions as I read this book. Of course, I would probably not be fortunate enough to still have my brain function intact should I ever get bitten.

I am still not sure how I feel about James, Paul's brother. The two don't seem to have gotten along very well in the past. They still don't quite get along, yet have that blood tie that is holding them together and makes them want to still protect each other. It's familiar to me.

I also haven't quite decided how I feel about Heather. I understand Paul's attraction to her, but I still don't think she is someone I would quite want as a friend. She runs hot and cold. Some of that I understand, because of the dire circumstances in which she finds herself. I wouldn't want to be the one who is being hunted down by a mad scientist, just because I am immune to the zombie virus. I would be angry at all of the loss and destruction that I see around me. I would probably also misdirect my anger and frustration, which wouldn't help me the most likeable person in that moment, either. 

Mom annoys me because she is angry at Paul for mistakes in his past. I think I have been coming around to her, though. Grandma Jean is fun. I like grandmothers in these types of books. They tend to be fiesty, which is necessary to their survival. 

There is enough action and a few twists that keep the series going in this second installment. I'm also glad that I have all of them at once, because I would have hated to wait in between them!

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Mostly Dead (book #3)

Time is running out and Paul’s original wish for death looms.

As his skin grays and hunger becomes uncontrollable, the world burns.

Heather and Paul have fallen for each other, but with life and death barricading them apart, and the potential cure disappearing into time, they have no hope.

Paul’s hunger is all-consuming. He has to walk into the flames, join Dominic, or eat everyone he loves.

Can he save anyone, if not himself?

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Viral Intent (Prequel short)

Dominic has no remorse, no guilt, and his righteous justification swells as his research goes unchecked. There’s someone Dominic wants to save, and he may have the cure. But now he needs test subjects. He creates a virus that brings about the zombie apocalypse. There’s no excuse for how he treats Paul and humanity itself, but understanding the man might shed light on the evolution of the virus that brings Paul and Heather together.

Discover the how and why behind Dominic’s evil actions. Are you brave enough to see how a Zombie Master is born?


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Bonnie R. Paulson mixes her science and medical background with reality and possibilities to make even myths seem likely and give every romance the genetic strength to survive. Bonnie has discovered a dark and twisty turn in her writing that she hopes you enjoy as much as she has enjoyed uncovering it. Dirt biking with her family in the Northwest keeps her sane.

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~The Zombie Survival Guide Manual
~Emergency Mylar Blanket.
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1 comment:

  1. I have not read from this author.. and so glad your hosting on here for me to find out all about it!! So excited to check out more of the work.


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