Title: After Life Lessons
Author: Laila Blake & L.C. Spoering
Release Date: April 8 2014
Hulking shadows emerge out of the chaotic flurries of the blizzard. Something is dying, and so they come, like vultures.
After months of struggling south to escape the zombie-infested remains of New York, a snowstorm traps 23-year old artist, Emily, and her son in an abandoned gas station. Starving and desperate, they encounter Aaron, an Army medic on a mission of his own, who offers them a ride to ease the journey.
The road is a long and dangerous place to travel, and every day brings a new threat. But fear and adrenaline also drive the two closer together; they find laughter and a budding attraction that starts to thaw at their numb and deadened feelings. And that’s when the pain really starts to hit, when places long thought lost prickle back to life. Eventually, they will have to fight not just for survival, but for a future together, or their broken world will swallow them whole.
This novel contains language some might find offensive, some gore and situations of a sexual nature. Reader's discretion is advised.
4 “Zombies Are Bad” Stars
“Hulking shadows emerge out of the chaotic flurries of the blizzard. Something is dying, and so they come, like vultures.”
After Life Lessons by Laila Blake and L.C. Spoering is book one in this new dystopian series. The world is now a different place ever since “the virus” appeared infecting humans and turning them into zombies. It’s a dog eat dog world now-a-days where only the strongest and most resilient survive. With zombies on the attack and ferociously hunting their prey the name of the game is staying out of their path and staying alive.
“Years ago she had believed that fear could be overcome by repetition, but now she knew that wasn’t true.”
Emily, a young woman from Brighton, England, used to have a good life with a musician for a boyfriend and a young son. A life in New York where she could easily escape into her art and create. Now Emily lives a life on the run with her son, Song. A life where she feels isolated and alone. Every day brings on new struggles and challenges. Every day is also one that could be their last. Ever since Emily and Song lost Sullivan, Emily’s boyfriend and Song’s father, they have been on their own, escaping the zombie-infested city of New York and trying to survive against zombies and snow storms. They are both depleted, starved and on the verge of giving up. Time is running out for them. When Emily and Song stop at an abandoned gas station, they encounter and ex-Army medic who is willing to help them. A sliver of hope slowly begins to form in Emily as for the first time since chaos erupted surviving may just be in the cards.
“She looked to Aaron, as though she was too small and too sleepy a thing to be out in the real world, a butterfly in half metamorphosis, peeking out too early and trying her very hardest to pretend she could fly.”
Aaron is on a mission of his own, determined to help those in need. With an operating vehicle and a means to obtain supplies, Aaron lives his life on the move going from one to place to the next aiding those in need and helping out where he is able to. When he comes across Emily and Song at an abandoned gas station, there is no way that Aaron is willing to walk away from Emily’s pleas for help. Aaron is able to provide Emily and Song with medication, food and safety against the elements and the danger. As they begin to journey all together, it becomes abundantly clear that slowly more is at stake than survival.
“People run, Emily. People hide out. You think you’re broken. Everyone thinks they are, too.”
The story progresses seamlessly, following Aaron, Emily and Song as they travel along attempting to find a safe haven in this new post-apocalyptic world. As the trio travel along gathering further supplies, Emily and Aaron find themselves becoming closer and a mutual attraction slowly blossoms. Amidst the constant threat of danger and vigilance to survive, their normal day to day interactions allow for a reprieve from the trials and tribulations they face on a daily basis. Their hearts slowly begin to awaken as both Emily and Aaron realize that they need each other for so much more than simple survival. But, demons and ghosts from the past trickle in and Emily and Aaron must work through their inner turmoil and allow for healing to take place. Is the promise of a happy forever together enough for the pair to work through their personal struggles and grasp at the hope of a new love?
This is a character driven novel, very different than other zombie and dystopian books I have read in the past. I found that refreshing. I loved the fact that the main focus was often on the day to day experiences and we get to see how the characters go on this journey discovering things about themselves that they did not necessarily know. Emily, despite her damaged spirit, was strength personified. The fact that she survived as long as she did on her own with a young son to look after spoke to how truly tough she is. Aaron has his own issues to work through and it all comes to a head near the end of the book. With this being said, one of the things that I wished there was more of was a little more detail and explanations regarding the virus. Where did it come from? Is it present in the entire world? How much of the population is left? The world building was lacking a little bit for me. However, perhaps we will get more about this as the story continues in the next books.
All in all, After Life Lessons was a great dystopian novel. I am looking forward to seeing where this pair of authors takes matters. I am pretty sure Aaron and Emily are in for more surprises as they try to navigate a world where continuous threats are being hauled at them. Bring it, I say. ;)
About The Authors
LAILA BLAKE & L.C. SPOERING
L.C. and Laila met in 2010 on an online forum and have been inseparable ever since. Having supported each other in their individual writing projects for years, they finally decided to work more closely together in a cross-continental cooperative writing partnership. Together, they host the podcast Lilt and started their micropublishing venture Lilt Literary in 2013.
L.C. (generally known as Lorrie) lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, kids, and too many pets. Laila is a nerdy German translator, living in Cologne with her kitten and a lot of sparkly lights.
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