The Becoming: Safe House
by Jessica Meigs
Horror — Speculative Fiction
Jessica Meigs, March 2011
In January 2009, the Michaluk Virus swept across the southeastern United States, infecting nearly everyone in its path and turning them into homicidal cannibals. One month later, as Cade, Brandt, and Ethan hole up in a safe house near Tupelo, Mississippi, the arrival of two brothers threatens to upset the layers of security and trust they’ve built around themselves. After the infected attack and they’re forced to flee, one of the members departs for Memphis and the others sweep south to Biloxi, where they discover a trapped young woman begging for help. When the rescue is botched and two members of the group go missing, the remaining three race to a new safe house, all the while wondering if their companions are still alive and who is left to help them survive.
Safe House is the second book in Jessica Meigs’ series, The Becoming, about a nasty virus that is turning people into flesh-eating psychos (read: zombies). And her zombies are kick-ass. Gone is the slow-moving, shuffling, stumbling, seemingly idiotic, only-eats-flesh-it-can-out-muscle zombie. Meigs’ flesh eaters are fast, intelligent, sneaky and calculating. And it seems as though the majority of the population in the affected areas has been infected, so there are HORDES of these things. THAT is terrifying.
I plowed through this second installment in three and half hours because I just couldn’t put it down. I kept thinking, ‘One more chapter, one more chapter,’ and before I knew it, I had come to the end of the book. Oh, and did I mention that I read it at night? Not smart. I was completely creeped out by the time I went to bed. Also, when I’m reading, I tend to block out my surroundings, so if anyone had walked up on me last night and caught me off guard, I probably would have had a heart attack. That’s how engrossed I was in this book.
The main characters from Outbreak are back, but in Safe House we get to see different sides of their personalities. The situation is obviously starting to take its toll, but being on the run for a month and being holed up with the same people for that amount of time without finding other survivors will do that to a person. Ethan, Cade and Brandt have lost none of their toughness, but now we witness how each of them handles prolonged stress and fear… and how they’re starting to get on each other’s nerves.
Meigs also introduces some new characters into the story, which made me happy. I knew that Ethan, Cade and Brandt couldn’t possibly be the ONLY survivors of this whole mess, but introducing new people into the mix definitely keeps the story fresh. My favorite out of the new characters is Nikola: she’s spunky, she hasn’t lost her sense of humor even though she’s been through hell, she saves Ethan’s ass at one point… and she’s only 14! That’s my kind of girl.
I only have one real question for Jessica, and this is the kind of thing I think about when trying to put myself in the characters’ shoes to figure out what I would do in the same situation and how I would be feeling… When the heck (and where) do they get to go to the bathroom??? Hahaha!
Safe House is very good. Meigs keeps the series moving in new and interesting ways, which is important in a story where all of the main action takes place in a limited area, under very limiting circumstances. She has kept the original characters fresh and has introduced new characters that I think will pan out to be equally interesting. The book kept me on edge, made my palms sweaty (again) and had me creeped out well after I finished reading it. I find myself wondering: Has the virus spread to other parts of the country/world yet? What are people in uninfected areas saying about it? What are they thinking? I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series, not only to find out if my questions get answered or if the virus is finally stopped from spreading everywhere, but also because I’m enjoying being completely freaked out by Meigs’ original take on the classic virus-leads-to-zombies theme. And coming from a germaphobe who typically doesn’t get into horror, that is definitely saying a lot.
**Read my review of The Becoming: Outbreak, the first book in the series.
**Want to know more about Jessica Meigs? Read my interview with her, conducted when she released the first book in the series.
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!