REVIEW: Kick At The Darkness by Keira Andrews
To live through the zombie apocalypse they have to survive each other first.
College freshman Parker Osborne is having the worst day ever. He humiliated himself trying to pick up a cute guy, he hasn’t made any friends at school, and his stupidly hot jerk of a TA gave him a crappy grade on his paper. He’s going to drop Adam Hawkins’ film class and start fresh tomorrow after he’s had a good sulk.
But Parker’s about to find out what a bad day really looks like—if he can survive the night.
A virus is unleashed, transforming infected people into zombie-like killers. After these quick and deadly creepers swarm campus, Parker only escapes thanks to Adam swooping him onto the back of his trusty motorcycle. Now they’re on the run—and stuck with each other.
When they’re not bickering, they’re fighting off the infected in a bloody battle for survival. Their only hope is to head east to Parker’s family, but orphaned Adam has a secret he’s not sure Parker will accept: he’s a werewolf. Can they trust each other enough to find some light in these dark days?
Dear Keira Andrews, one morning I was asking for opinions about this book on my Amazon m/m discussion group and eventually I requested it as a loan. Later the same day I noted that you submitted this book to DA for review, so I decided it was fate’s intervention and picked it up. I was a little nervous because
I do not particularly care for post-apocalyptic fiction these days. However, I decided to give it a try anyway. As an aside I want to note that I do not understand why it was necessary to reveal in the blurb that Adam was a werewolf – this is one twist that to me counted as pretty big spoiler, but I am not a blurb writer, so what do I know.
The set-up is described well. Parker is pissed off at his TA Adam, who gave him a low grade. It is not that Parker is lazy in all his classes, quite the contrary; he has several hard classes on his schedule. It is just that he took a film class hoping he would have one class where he wouldn’t have to work as hard. Alas, Adam won’t have it, and while he is willing to help when Parker comes to him, Parker quite frankly behaves like a whiny teenager, which he is. Parker leaves and decides to drop the class, but then (as the blurb once again states correctly) his day changes from bad to worse, much worse. The virus is spreading everywhere – at first he does not even understand what is happening, but then his older brother calls him on his cell phone and tells Parker that it is happening in England too. The owner of his company has a bunker somewhere and all the employees are going underground. Parker’s all too brief talk with his brother may be their last – who knows for how long they will be able to survive in that bunker.
Very soon after that Parker has a good chance to be a yummy snack for infected people/zombies, but Adam grabs him and takes him away on his motorcycle, and off they go.
I liked a lot of things in this story, especially since despite the fantastical set up I did not have to stretch my suspension of disbelief a lot. The events that take place are over the top, of course, but what I am trying to say is that for the most part I thought that what was happening *could* happen if such a virus started spreading in our world. I could relate to the way several characters reacted to their world changing so fast and for the worst. Panic, fear, hope which got crushed too often, yet still some hope was left – all the reactions felt reasonable to me. I was also entertained – the story is essentially a road trip and I find that it is not easy to maintain tension throughout the whole trip; I think that for the most part the writer did an admirable job with it. Adam and Parker encounter quite a few obstacles with different degrees of danger and try to overcome them to the best of their abilities.
Of course theirs is also a love story and I have mixed opinions about that part. On the one hand I loved that when they were running for their lives they did not stop to have sex and the writer managed to actually make me believe that when they were having sex they wouldn’t be interrupted by a mob of angry infecteds, but on the other hand, I just don’t know. Besides the fact that they were thrown together by a twist of fate (as stated before they were TA and student in the pre-apocalypse world, but it is not like they ever interacted besides that), I am just not sure what they saw in each other. I guess the best way to articulate why the love story felt a bit flat for me would be this. Yes, this is an action/adventure story and I am perfectly okay with romance being on the back burner when more important things are happening, but it is not like these guys are ever in the background of the story. In fact, I would argue that the rest of the cast has only tiny roles to play, even the villains, and the only reason they appear is to make Adam and Parker shine more. Adam and Parker interact with each other *all the time* and I am not sure I got a lot of information about why they are so good together, despite them interacting with each other all the time. And it is not like they have much to do, except trying not to die of course, and trying to make it to their chosen destination.
There are “villains” appearing in the story, but I put them in quotation marks because if there ever were villains who have admirable motivations, these characters have those motivations for sure. But I just could not help thinking that I was suddenly watching a bad cartoon. Yes, I know the story was a romp from the beginning, but this is where I reached my “suspension of disbelief” limit. Opinions may differ on this of course.
I guess the ending was as happy as one can wish for in a post-apocalyptic world (don’t worry they are alive and together), but I still could not help but wish for a more certain one.