Waking Up Dead (End of Days Love #1) by Emma Shortt
Genre: Horror romance
Publisher: Entangled Select
Date of Publication: 22 October 2013
ISBN: 9781622660353 / ASIN: B00BMKRLXG
Number of pages: 372 Word Count: 104,000
Cover Artist: TK Designs
You know your life has hit rock bottom when you’re living off cooked rats and showering once every few months—if you’re lucky. But for Jackson Hart things are about to get a whole lot worse. When her best friend, Tye, disappears hunting for food, kick-ass Jackson’s ‘head south to safety’ plan looks like it’s dead before it’s even begun. But then she meets ex-mechanic Luke Granger, who takes her to his bunker, feeds her with non-rat based food, and offers her protection against the zombie hordes—not that she needs it. She knows how to use a machete and isn’t afraid to.
Jackson was tempted to stay in the city with her rescuer. Food, shampoo and the possibility of finally getting laid, what more could she ask for? But the flesh eaters are getting smarter and the bunker is compromised, so Jackson and Luke have no choice but to make the journey south.
Luke and Jackson team up to find other humans in a road-trip romance for the ages. They travel for thousands of miles with zombies shadowing their every move. They must utilize every resource at their disposal…and then some. On the way, they discover that even if flesh eating zombies are knocking down their door, there’s always time for sex and even love.
“Anything is possible if you’ve got the nerve…but sometimes a machete helps too.” – Jackson Hart
I really enjoyed reading Waking Up Dead, a post-apocalyptic zombie novel that provides a morbidly fascinating look at the stark reality and morality issues that survivors continue to face even two years after an outbreak that decimated society. The book successfully blends horror and romance together into an adrenaline-packed narrative that grabbed my attention from the start and kept me enthralled until the final sentence.
The protagonist of the book is Jackson Hart, a symbolically fitting name for her character. “Jackson” is a name most often given to males, and throughout the book, over and over, Jackson defies traditional female stereotypes and there’s no doubt, this gal’s got a lot of heart, even though she tries to conceal it behind her tough façade. She is a resilient, capable, skilled fighter in contrast to her petite physical frame. With her trusty best friend, Mandy, the Machete, at her side, she has become adept at compartmentalizing her feelings and turning into a “death machine” when she must. It doesn’t take Luke, her new traveling companion, long to realize she’s a “bad ass” who can take care of herself and doesn’t’ need a man to protect her. Jackson’s character really makes you ponder the long-term effects of living in fear and having to kill on a daily basis and a central question raised is whether a person can ever really return from it to live a “normal” life.
When Jackson and Luke meet while trying to escape zombies,
there is an instant attraction and growing spark between these two seemingly different people, who in the pre-zombie world, would probably have never taken the time to get to know each other. Luke is a gorgeous man whose natural instincts are to protect, and he struggles with his overriding desire to keep Jackson safe when she clearly doesn’t need or want it. Luke has been lucky. He’s had a secure bunker to hole up in for the past year and he hasn’t been in the trenches like Jackson facing death around every corner. In their journey to reach a survival camp in Texas, Luke realizes that Jackson is much more experienced than he is in knowing how to survive with minimal resources and he has to check his ego every now and again because he doesn’t get to take on the traditional male role of caretaker and protector.
The romance between Jackson and Luke develops over time, and it never overshadows the other dynamics of the story. The deep emotional connection between them is so strong and it gives them the strength they need to keep going in the direst of situations. Their love story is a ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak world. Their first love scene together is hot as they pour all of their unfulfilled desires and needs into one another, longing to escape, just for a moment, the loneliness and desperation that have become ingrained in their day-to-day existence.
One intriguing aspect of the story is the subtle evolvement of the zombies as Jackson and Luke come to the horrifying realization that not all of the zombies are the mindless, animalistic creatures they’ve been killing for the past two years. The waking dead’s actions, behaviors, and calculating expressions indicate they are becoming more intelligent over time. Concerns about the morality of killing these questionable beings are raised as the survivors observe and learn more about them.
I loved how the author pulled me into the story, made me feel on edge about the constant looming danger of the waking dead. The climax of the book was extremely intense and brought out so many emotions in me. I’m not one to get easily teary-eyed, but I couldn’t help but get caught up in the deep emotional anguish, anger, pain, and sadness that engulf the characters, and the heartbreaking decisions they must make.
If this is the start of a series, then I certainly plan to follow it, and I can’t wait to find out more about the next installment. So, Ms. Shortt, if you happen to catch this review, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could share some tidbit about what we can expect in the near future.
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
As a kid Emma wanted to be an astronaut, or maybe Captain Janeway. Because she didn’t really think her career choices through very well she ended up in an everyday geek job, crunching numbers and sighing over syntax. It seemed a long way from the stars, and in an effort to escape Emma decided to get serious about her other passion. Writing.
Several years later and Emma has yet to walk on the moon or sit in the Captain’s chair, but she is still writing. She scribbles stories in all sorts of genres, contemporary, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, historical, sci-fi…if she hasn’t tried it yet she will before long. The only common theme is the romance. A hopeless romantic, everything Emma writes has a love story in there somewhere.
She lives on the west coast of England with her very Greek husband and teenage kiddos. Apart from all things geek reading is her main hobby and she likes nothing better than getting home from a hard day at work and curling up with a book, though sometimes she gets home and writes one instead.
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