Dear Ms. Scott:
I don’t like post apocalyptic stories. I am not a fan of zombies. Thank goodness for other reader’s recommendations because without them, my own prejudices would make me miss interesting new stories such as this one. Flesh is set 53 days post apocalypse in Brisbane, Australia.
Daniel has stumbled upon non infected female Ali who has been holed up in her neighbor’s house’s attic since the onset of a virus that has turned humans into flesh eating zombies. Daniel has been coasting along on his own but immediately wants to take Ali under his wing. Daniel’s instant love (and lust) is fairly understandable in this situation. Nearly everyone is a flesh eating zombie and to find a non infected person is like discovering water in an endless dessert.
Ali is wary of Daniel and would prefer to stay in her attic hideout. Daniel tells Ali that the infected are dying out and that there are other survivors in the suburbs and in non urban areas. He convinces her that the two of them are better off together than alone.
Ali is aware than Daniel’s motivations are driven by more than his desire for friendship and is constantly asking Daniel to remove his hands, stop making suggestive comments, and give her a little space. Daniel tries, but he’s almost deliriously excited by Ali.
As the two of them venture forth, Daniel and Ali encounter a biker gang who is intent on taking Ali into their group and Daniel, for all of his survival abilities realizes that he’s placed Ali in great danger. Another survivor, Finn, comes to their rescue.
Finn is a former police officer and has military-esque hunting abilities. He knows he is better at keeping Ali safe than Daniel is. Finn has had the two in his sights since Daniel discovered Ali. What gets Finn the most is that if he had just made his move for Ali when he first saw her, she might be with him rather than Daniel.
All of this works for me solely because of the survivalist circumstances. There are too few people left alive in the world and too few women, apparently. It’s unknown whether the women were infected at a greater rate or whether they were less able to survive against the zombies. The biggest downside of this story is Ali. She does not come off as very capable. She is supposed to be in her thirties but she often reacts like a clueless teenager/early 20 year old. While she has survived on her own for eight weeks, we see her exhibit very little survival skills. Instead, she is taken care of by Daniel and Finn.
Daniel encourages Ali to have a relationship with Finn because he knows that in this world, two of them looking out for her, increases her survival rate.
It’s a very sexy story. The world building is quite engaging although sparse, parceling out only the very meanest of details. It’s unclear how easily a person can be infected; what keeps the zombies animated; how the infection started. Similarly, the actual falling in love part of the book is non existent. Daniel, for example, immediately latches on to Ali as his one and only but while he protests it is not because she is the only non infected vagina around, you kind of get the sense that it really is initially. Finn’s connection with Ali is even more tenuous as are her feelings for him.
I wish that the heroine had more agency, more abilities to care for herself. I am really intrigued by the different factions being introduced and how the individuals will survive. There is a good blend of action, survival, and emotional interaction. Despite the problems I had with the story, those were only really noticeable as I was ending the story. While reading, I was completely engaged. At the end of the book I immediately bought Skin which follows another survival group. C+