Thursday, 8 March 2012

‘Sadie Walker is Stranded’ – Madeleine Roux (St. Martin’s Griffin/Headline)

As much as I try to be impartial here (and I do) there are certain books that I enjoy all the more because of the subject matter. Yep, I’m talking zombies again… :o) I won’t go into all the reasons why, I’m sure you know them all already, but suffice it to say that someone would have to seriously mess up a zombie novel for me to disappointed by it. Someone like Madeleine Roux? Well maybe that’s not quite fair. I loved the concept behind ‘Allison Hewitt is Trapped’ but it didn’t quite work where it mattered, not for me anyway. You can either read the full review Here or you can carry on here and read a couple of bits like,

‘…with Allison at times worrying more about the wireless connection, on her laptop, than what dangers might lurk in this new world.’


‘…it just didn’t feel that dangerous to me as you know that Allison will be there at the end of the day to blog about it.’

As well as,

‘Allison Hewitt Is Trapped’ benefits greatly from its strong lead character but that ended up being almost the only reason I kept reading.’

Not a zombie book that I’d recommend to you guys then (although I do know others who have really enjoyed it). That being the case then, why did I pick up ‘Sadie Walker is Stranded’?

Well, the bottom line is that I liked the look of the world that Roux was building and I was interested to see how it would stand up without the ‘blogging perspective’ throwing things out of joint. Actually that’s not really the bottom line at all. I like zombie books, that’s all there is to it :o)
Having read ‘Sadie Walker’ though… I’m not sure that I would go back for a third helping. I do like what’s being done with the titles and would have a look at the cover to see what the next one is (‘Amanda Jones is having her large intestine pulled out and eaten by a walking corpse’?) but that’s about it…

Sadie Walker is a survivor in a world where those who don’t survive come back and try to eat those who have made it this far. Seattle is a safe haven for Sadie and her young nephew Shane; well… it is until trouble within the city brings those barricades down and floods the city with the walking dead.
Sadie and Shane manage to get the last boat out of the city but they are about to discover that the danger has spread out onto the open water… It’s not just zombies that they need to worry about either, other survivors have their own ideas about what shape this new world will take.

I really wanted to like ‘Sadie Walker is Stranded’, I really did. There was enough there to see me through to the end of the book but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who didn’t enjoy ‘Allison Hewitt is Trapped’. I said it last time and I’ll say it again, there are better zombie books out there.

I think the first hint, that things were most definitely not going the right way, came when Seattle was breached by the zombie hordes. Think about it, an entire city laid bare to the ravening masses of the undead. There has got to be scope there for harrowing scenes of death, panic and humanity at its absolute worst. Hasn’t there? Not if your heroine (you know, the person whose eyes we are seeing this all through) is unconscious for a large chunk of it. If that wasn’t bad enough, Sadie’s escape from Seattle (and what she has to do on the way) is a little bit too easy and makes a bit of a mockery of how urgent it’s supposed to be.
Now, you could say that’s how things can go sometimes; not everyone is going to have a tough time of it are they? I’d say that you’re correct but bailing your heroine out like that robs the story of it’s tension and lets the reader know that you’ll probably be looking out for said heroine over the course of the rest of the book. And that’s what Roux does although, to be fair, if you’re telling a story from a first person perspective then it’s a safe bet that your character is going to make it to the end of the book.
And Sadie was unconscious for what could have been some of the most amazing scenes in the entire book. I’m not sure I can forgive that…

It gets worse though.

Picture a world where the living dead outnumber the living by hundreds of thousands to one. Now picture yourself in that world, what do you do? Do you focus on the survival of you and yours? Or do you make eyes at that attractive looking guy in the group with a view to frantic sex on an island that you already know hides any number of zombies in the forest? You can probably guess what Sadie does…

All I could think was ‘oh, I guess things aren’t that dangerous after all’. They couldn’t be, surely, not if there’s time for a whole bunch of flirting leading up to a whole load of… well, you know. These moments really didn’t gel with the rest of the book and its talk of a zombie menace along with an unseen killer on the island (I liked that sub-plot actually, loads of questions with red herrings mixed in). It got to a point where I wasn’t sure what kind of a story I was reading; what is a tale of survival, after the zombie apocalypse, or was it some kind of weird take on paranormal romance? I don’t know…

‘Sadie Walker is Stranded’ is the point where this zombie fan jumps off the ride and looks for another. It’s not as dangerous as it likes to think it is (Zombies in the water? Well, don’t go in the water then…) and the attempt at introducing romance really doesn’t work at all. If you liked Roux’ first book then there could be something here for you, not for me though…

Five out of Ten

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