Published by Jessica Meigs on 2010
Genres: Horror, Speculative Fiction
Source: the author
I first “met” Jessica (@JessicaMeigs) on Twitter when she was suggested to me by a mutual friend as someone I should follow, who enjoys reading as much as I do. I quickly learned that she was writing a series of zombie novellas to be named The Becoming: A Tale of the Zombie War, and to be self-published as ebooks for the Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook. When she had completed the first novella–which I am reviewing here–she posted the links on Twitter as part of her sales strategy. To be honest, I’m not usually keen on buying/reading self-published books unless the author is well established. I know, I know, they have to be given a chance, too. But unless I hear that a self-published book is good through word-of-mouth, or unless I already know what kind of work an author produces, I typically won’t buy it. So I originally bought this book and started reading it as a good-hearted person who likes chatting with the author on Twitter. I wanted to give her a fair shake.
I was more than pleasantly surprised.
The year is 2009. In the heart of the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, a virus capable of causing untold misery is unleashed into the world. Known only as the Michaluk Virus, its effects are widespread and devastating. As civilization begins to crumble under the hoards of homicidal infected, three people — Ethan Bennett, a police officer with the Memphis PD; Cade Alton, his best friend and former military sniper; and Brandt Evans, a lieutenant in the US Marines — band together in an attempt to survive the oncoming crush of death and terror sweeping across the southeastern United States. Facing the deaths and destruction of everyone and everything they know, these three people discover that the only thing they can count on is each other.
Now, I am not usually a big fan of horror–all of the blood and guts and killing quickly turns the stomach of a wimp like me–but I really liked this book. It has a very good mix of the stuff horror-lovers crave and great suspense, which is what I particularly liked about it. Not only that, but Meigs is an excellent writer; within minutes of starting the book my palms were sweaty, my stomach felt weird and my mind was warning me of nightmares ahead. And the fact that all of the mayhem is caused by a highly contagious virus? *shudders* Every time someone I know has a fever now, I’m going to end up picturing them turning into homicidal maniacs. Hahaha!
My favorite character so far is Cade. She is witty, sarcastic at times, tough–and I swear she has enough weapons in her arsenal for at least 20 people (and I think that’s underestimating it). While I’m reading, I usually find myself drawn to one character and I see the entire story taking place from their perspective, and Cade was that character this time. For someone like me who isn’t into guns and isn’t that tough, becoming Cade while I was reading was a pretty awesome change.
Here are my final thoughts: For a first-time self-published author I really think Jessica did a great job with this book. It has all the elements of a good horror story, as well as a good suspense/thriller. It kept me on edge and wanting to read more, and her writing was such that I could really picture what was going on in great detail. I would definitely recommend this book to people who love a good zombie story or horror/suspense in general, but take it from me–it just might keep you up at night…
(The Becoming: Outbreak is also available here for the B&N Nook.)
UPDATE, 4/4/11: Jessica’s books have been temporarily taken down from all sites because… SHE’S GETTING PUBLISHED! You can read her big news on The Becoming, the official website for her writing. Congratulations, Jessica!