Friday, May 10, 2013

Review - Strangers in the Land (The Zombie Bible, Book 3) by Stant Litore (3.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Zombies
Size: 440 pages
Publisher: 47North
Date:October 16, 2012
Stand Alone or Series: 3rd book in the Zombie Bible series
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. This seems to be the third book in the Zombie Bible series; I did not read the first two books but this book stands well on its own. It was decently written, a bit dense at times, but it was engaging enough.

This was a retelling of a portion of the Bible with zombies included. This is the story of Devora (an aging Hebrew prophetess), Hurriya (a slave girl who has suffered through many horrors) and Zadok (a legendary Hebrew warrior). The three of them journey from their home out into the Land in an effort to save their people from an onslaught of undead.

This story is a bit wordy and dense at times, but ended up being a compelling story with characters that were easy to engage with. The first part of the book drags a bit but that gets better as the story continues. Most of the book is told from Devora’s point of view.

Devora is a compelling character. She is a strong woman figure in a society where women are only valued for their child-bearing abilities. She values life above all, but is often forced to fight and take lives to protect her people. With Zadok by her side she is unstoppable, but in his absence she is strangely vulnerable.

There are a lot of politics going on in this book. Devora struggles for respect as a woman, so there is that going on. Hurriya, as a heathen in the Hebrew people’s eyes, struggles with cruelty and persecution of her people. There is a bit of an unrequited love thing going on here too. There are also all the rituals and laws that the Hebrew people follow, they say they follow the laws to protect their people from the undead. In truth there is some validity to that (for example raising cairns on the undead so they can’t rise again) but like most religions a lot of it is routine meant to comfort.

As you might expect there is a lot of talking about God and praying to God in this book. There is also a lot of talk from the characters about how God doesn’t take good care of his people. This always bothers me a bit because I believe people should be willing to be proactive and take care of themselves. God is there to guide them, not run their lives.

In the second half of the book there are a lot of more traditional zombie mayhem types scenes where warriors are mowing down fields of hungry undead. There is a lot of gore in this book as well, so it is not for the faint of heart. You even have some scenes with super creepy zombie children. Additionally there is a lot of sexual violence mainly between the Hebrew men and the “heathen” women. So this is definitely an adult read.

At points the story reads like a Greek tragedy...a lot of people die in this story and no one is safe from an untimely death. This is definitely not an uplifting read, pretty much everyone dies. Still it was well done. The discussion of who are really the monsters here is also a good one. At many points in the book Devora has more to fear from her fellow humans than from the undead.

There isn’t anything super creative here, much of the zombie aspects to the story have been seen before. It is a decently written and engaging story though, if a bit wordy at points.

Overall an okay religious zombie read. It’s a bizarre combination to be sure. The characters are engaging and the plot is fairly compelling. The pacing could use a bit of work, it is a bit slow and definitely wordy for the first half of the book. It’s not necessarily a comfortable read (there’s a lot of violence and little hope in this story), it is also not an uplifting read. I guess I would recommend this to someone who wants to read a zombified retelling of a portion of the Bible. Kind of a specific audience but it is what it is.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- Paranormal Reading Challenge
- TBR Pile Reading Challenge

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