Peter Martenuac posted his book in my handy-dandy review request form on my book review request page! My rules for answering a review request are there, if you want to risk it.
Her Name was Abby
Author: Peter Martenuac
I’ll admit I like zombies. I’ll admit I’m always looking for good action. And I’ll be damned if I pass up an indie book that seems to promise both.
Usually I reserve this section for “why I read the book” and an intro, but I wanted to say here that some rather intense and somewhat violent situations occur within the book. They are, indeed, well done, but you might want to know that if you’re considering the read.
Also, I apologize that I’m no longer cursing in my reviews, but Amazon keeps taking them down from their site when I do that.
This book was right up my alley. Written with intense historical context, rich backdrop, and enough introduction that I didn’t feel like I required the first book, I just gobbled this up. Make it through the first part, and you’ll be in a whirlwind of emotion that just doesn’t stop. Read this with an eye for historical metaphors, and you’ll be rewarded immensely.
Let’s go with the simple first: the tension is great. Main character Abby struggles in the beginning to find her way through the wilds. Though the book’s main plot and intensity picks up a lot in Part II, the beginning fits very thematically and adds to the sense of horror that Abby must pull herself through. Once Part II starts, Abby meets compelling characters like Hector and Hiamovi. As members of a resistance faction against the emergency government, they’re idealists who you’ve just got to like. Throw Derrick, a good-looking member of the enemy, into the mix, and you’ve got sexual tension that I didn’t expect from an action book. I kid you not, the sexual and romantic tension was just so good. (More about that in the spoilers section). There’s no safety for any character in this book. I won’t spoil who lives or dies, but I will say that Martenuac obviously killed off the main character in Book 1, His Name Was Zach. Be afraid for your favorites!
Martenuac can write a really good fight scene. It might be introduced with a deep-dive into some war-based minutia, but the movement isn’t too punch-by-punch to withstand nor is it too sparse. Though some of the minutia – such as talking about gear – seems a bit dull, it served two purposes for me. One, it did help me predict tactics and understand the battlefield. Two: metaphors.
THIS BOOK WAS CHOCK FULL OF ALLUSIONS TO AMERICAN HISTORY. The president was Cyrus Arthur, for goodness’ sake. When I read about his corruption, his wife’s mysterious death, vice-presidency-to-presidency, and his VERY NAME, I instantly thought “Chester A. Arthur.” The book also referenced Ulysses S. Grant. It’s the Guilded Age, you guys. There was a Moby-Dick like reverence and study of tools, an apocalyptic event that forced movement to the west (zombies in the book, Civil War in real life), Indian Wars (I’M NOT KIDDING), and treatises on inequality that reminded me of 19th century American history.
The book’s metaphorical reconstruction, complete with martial law and obligatory lawlessness following the apocalypse, mirrors a Post-Civil War landscape. There’s a sort of idea that the “Lincoln” of the story, the president before Arthur, was killed before his time and that everything was worse for it. There’s rampant corruption in the upper eschelons. If you read this with an eye for these things, it adds so much flavor to what you’re consuming.
But there’s also a major, major difference between what happened in history and what happened in this book: Abby. While putting a modern world through an explosion and comparing our current situation to the past, Martenuac also posited that our future doesn’t need to mirror that which has already happened. The moral that one person could make a difference really did it for me. Together with the action, that made this book one of the best indie books I’ve read this year.
I’ll admit that some of the detailed description of weapons systems, equipment, and “how-to” battle could get a bit tedious, especially at the beginning where there wasn’t as much character tension. The beginning could have been shortened or integrated better from a plot standpoint, but it did serve the purpose of making a reader unfamiliar with Book 1 catch up really quick, and it added to the historical themes. The ending worked very well and wrapped up all plotlines, but there were a few things I would have enjoyed seeing instead.
5/5 Discoball Snowcones
Look, this book came out in 2020, so how dare I spoil much?
All I’m going to talk about here is that little love triangle. If you want no spoilers, don’t read further. This is a major part of the book that adds tension.
What makes the love triangle in this book so compelling is that both love interests, Hiamovi the rebel and Derrick the president’s son, are great. You have to like them both because they’re honest, earnest, and hardworking. You understand why Abby is two-timing, and you feel for her, and you just can’t choose how to finish out this storyline.
I think what Martenuac chose was probably one of the best options out there, but by the time I got to that resolution I severely wanted a threesome. Gosh darn it, both those boys were good, and I’d have been fine if they’d turned out bi or ok with sharing. They seemed like people who could have been friends, and their jealousy over Abby was just not going to let it happen.
But oh! Oh, it would have been a great solution. In my little, bleeding heart, anyway. It’d probably screw up book three, though.
NOVEMBER (*Parks and Rec song where Andy sings “November” to April plays in the background*). Stay tuned for some dank new reviews!