This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.
It’s the end of the world.
The Afters is about Charles Gilbert Billingsworth the VIII (Charlie). He is surviving – and enjoying – the zombie apocalypse, until he finds two lost children and –one of whom is hiding a powerful secret.
I liked it.
The Afters was easy to read, easy to follow, and the tone was witty and conversational – albeit a bit too conversational in places.
There were a few typing issues, such as the unintended fluctuation between past and present tense and some words at the start of chapters lacked spaces, but I’m sure those are things a quick edit can resolve.
When it comes to zombie apocalypse fiction, The Afters covers a lot of common ground – America is struck by a virus that has destroyed the population, quarantines are set up, camps are set up by groups both good and bad, some people are fortunately immune, and there are plenty of zombie attacks and scavenger hunts. However, O’Connell writes about all of these things well, so if you really enjoy apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, this would be a great book for you.
However, in an age where everyone seems to be writing apocalyptic fiction, and zombie TV shows and video games like The Walking Dead have massive success, I wanted to see something new too.
Around halfway through The Afters, O’Connell delivers this. Firstly, in Charlie’s discovery that one of the children in his care has a remarkable supernatural ability and secondly, that the zombies may not be dead, but mutating.
It was interesting to read The Afters alongside Cell by Stephen King. Cell is another book set in a zombie apocalypse, where a blast from mobile telephones renders all uses dead, zombified, or something in between. However, some of these zombies gradually become smarter – learning, developing, rebooting themselves, with sinister intentions. With that in mind, it’s nice to see authors take on a popular or, dare I say it, overdone idea and add new things to the genre I haven’t come across before, and this is what O’Connell does.
I was also impressed with how many genuinely tense and scary scenes there were, that place the reader in the centre of zombie attacks and violence. Very entertaining.
However, Charlie’s first-person narration began to irk me once he met Kalila; he describes her in a provocative way and stares at her bosom a great deal. As a female reader, it was uncomfortable to read through his, quite frankly, sleazy thoughts and comments about a woman and it was an aspect of Charlie’s character I did not enjoy.
All in all, The Afters is a well-written piece of zombie apocalypse fiction that does everything you’d expect it and then a little bit more.
Star Rating: 4/5 Stars