A few years back I read the first book in this series by Gena Showalter called Alice in Zombieland. I remember really enjoying it at the time. It had a fresh take on zombies that I had not read anywhere else and I'm not generally very big on the zombie fandom as it is, so I was pleasantly surprised. It was recommended to me by a fellow book lover whose taste I trusted.
Here we are with all this time having passed and I found myself needing to fulfill some credits on my Audible account. I tend to use Audible for two things; memoirs read by the author and book series. I absolutely adore a memoir read by the author, but that's for another time. My fascination with audiobook series started with the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. All of the books were read by the same narrator and she did an amazing job. Those characters took on a life unto themselves in my mind. Ever since then I have made a point to find other series with a single narrator.
That being said, I don't know if it's because I went through the first book as an audiobook rather than reading it again…but I really hated Alice this time around. And Cole. So much so that I wanted to reach through the ether and punch them both in the face. I'm half way through the second book (Through the Zombie Glass) and I still feel the same way.
Alice and Cole are subjected to daily visions of each other making out or being drawn to each other. They don't know why or what for and so instead of talking to each other about it, they give each other dirty looks for what seems like forever before Cole finally and aggressively kidnaps Alice and demands that she tell him what she knows. As an aside, no attempt to find out why they have the visions is made, it's simply accepted.
The entire book alternates between Alice obsessing over whether this emotionally abusive douchebag actually likes her and her being magically able to handle the zombies she can now see. Throughout both books, the author merely skirts the concept of loss. Reiterating over and over that the protagonist is sad and misses her family does not scratch the surface of the actual despair over the loss of a person's entire family in one fell swoop. Zombie related or not, it would wreck a person.
The first book is riddled with over used tropes and phrases. Example?
"He ran a tongue over his teeth". Used multiple times. I do include the time she tried to switch it up with "ran a tongue over his incisor". Really? Take a moment to watch the people around you. Don't be creepy about it, but honestly, have you ever seen someone do this? Ever? Didn't think so.
Alice's over use of "Oh Glory" and calling herself by her last name. The latter is mostly frustrating because it's inconsistent and then totally abandoned by the second book. The former? Well it's just creepy. She uses it to describe how much she misses her family and then turns around to use it to describe how hot Cole is. Furthermore she gets mad when she gets called a "kid" and then turns around and calls her friends "kids" as a collective group in the next sentence. Listen, I understand that being a teenager is confusing and frustrating. Thoughts and feelings can change in an instant. Unfortunately they do not play out to give a likeable main character.
Cole is constantly pinning her to walls and blocking her exit with his arms. The dialogue when they attempt to talk dirty to each other is entirely too old for the ages that these characters have been given.
Also, I'm still awaiting a reason as to why only kids are fighting instead of the adults. They explain why ONE adult doesn't fight, but not all the others.
I can't stand that Alice has learned no lessons about communication.
If you've made it this far you're likely asking yourself why I keep listening if I dislike it so much. Hiding underneath all this rubble is a decent plot. Ok, ignore the will they/won't they piece of it. Zombies are soul suckers? They can't hurt you unless you're in a spirit form but if they hurt you in your spirit form it affects your actual body. There's an evil corporation that wants to use the zombies for warfare. There's loss and a little laughter. There is a rich world behind all of it that I am loving exploring with the narrator. Somehow it's trumping my disdain for the main characters. The book has plenty of random plotholes to overlook, but if you push through I feel it'll be worth it. I could be wrong though. Maybe I'll get to the end of the series and be pissed that I wasted so much time.
In the meantime, I'll keep hoping the Alice learns a lesson or two and that the zombies will be thwarted.