Last year, I reviewed the second book in this series – Her Name Was Abby – and was absolutely blown away. Because the third book (out now, but not at the time) was coming, I decided to back up a hot second and read the first book in the series: His Name Was Zach.
His Name Was Zach
Author: Peter Martuneac
Amazon Link (and hey, if you’re reading this in the couple days after the review dropped, book’s FREE right now!)
I really enjoyed the second book in the series last year, and I will say you can easily read that second book without reading the first. I like it when books give you that option, so feel free to look at that review and consider it if this one doesn’t look like you.
Like with Her Name Was Abby, I wanted to say here that some rather intense and somewhat violent situations occur within the book. This book also has more sexual themes and violence, and the amount of information and events that could be upsetting are more numerous in this book. They are, indeed, well done, and it’s very clear who the good guys are, but you might want to know these things are coming if you’re considering the read.
Super action-packed, fast-paced, and contains ups and downs in tension that keep the story interesting throughout. The chapters and mini-storylines are somewhat episodic, but they build to a “season finale” at the end of the book that’s worth sticking around for.
At first, I was a little worried about how useless Abby seemed to be, but there was a huge turning point early in the book where she made the decision to “grow up”. Martuneac, who is great at metaphor and symbolism, excellently coupled this change with hints and foreshadowing with what was to come. Even though Abby shared a smaller portion of the narrator’s attention with Zach, paying attention to her gives a better sense of what’s coming.
Speaking of Martuneac’s inherent artfulness in writing, he continues an amazing spree of American history allusions. I don’t think it was as fully developed in this volume as in the second book, but it’s still got this post-reconstruction, going-out-west sort of feel. It’s filled with the ideas of individualism, struggle against the wild (the zombie-infested landscape is known as The Wild), and dealing with those people who are fleeing civilization in order to fulfill their own sick ideas of pleasure.
For better or worse, the villains were truly villainous. It doesn’t take a long time to meet Henry, so I think it’s not a spoiler to say that guy was REALLY terrible. You’ll hate him, and you’ll love to hate him. Genuinely terrible person.
Perhaps it’s because I read the second book first, but I’m a terrible person and will compare it a little bit to Her Name was Abby. This book was genuinely enjoyable, but I must admit Abby was better composed, written, and complex. Like I said above, Henry was really, really bad, and he posed a good villain because you just wanted him to die. His presence and activities in that early piece of the book did serve to better define main characters Zach and Abby, but he was a bit on the “moustache twirling evil” side. Later villains introduced in different “episodes” within the book were a bit more complex (Vicky, the Irishman, to some extent Mayor Calvin), but they didn’t have the political and emotional complexity of the villains in book 2.
Ultimately, part of what this book does is prepare you for the end. It’s a building experience, and then that ending is like “OMG.” You kind of know it’s coming since Martuneac uses foreshadowing like an absolute boss, but it still hits like a truck.
Anyway, long story short, these human-focused, post zombie-apocalypse books are really good. Zach has a few more awkward tell-instead-of-show moments, but as a whole I would recommend it, especially so you can enjoy book 2 to its fullest.
5/5 Discoball Snowcones
Spellbound, an anthology put together by David Alatorre and including a story by Robbie Cheadle, comes to the blog next week! Stay tuned!