A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This series will appeal to fantasy and romance readers, though readers should begin with the first book.
The overwhelming message of Ryan's zombie series is that even in the face of unrelenting misery, death, and despair, individuals can find reasons to live, love, and soldier on each day. The love that the four main characters have -- romantic as two couples or as sisters or friends -- gives them the strength to survive.
Positive Role Models
Annah is a scrappy fighter who has learned how to survive on her own for more than three years. She's less naive than her twin sister Gabry, because she has seen a lot of ugliness. Annah can be jealous and insecure, but throughout the book discovers the qualities that make her special, and even beautiful, as well. Catcher once again protects his friends and is incredibly devoted and protective of Annah, Gabry, and Elias. Both Elias and Catcher have to collaborate with the Guardians to save the two women.
Violence & Scariness
The body count is ridiculously high because of zombie infections. And there is other violence: Annah is thrown into a death cage with a zombie for the amusement of spectators; a character kills to defend those he loves but in one case may cross the line; an infected woman begs to be put her out of her misery; and more. A band of elite "guardians" are actually quite ruthless and cold-hearted most of the time, willing to kill indiscriminately if it ensures their survival.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Annah recalls the last night she and Elias spent together, when they touched each other and kissed in bed. Elias and Gabry greet each other with passionate kisses and are often shown displaying affection. They also seem to share a bedroom in their living quarters. In two scenes, Annah strips down to nearly topless so Catcher can inspect whether she's been bitten and how she's so scarred. Throughout the entire book, Annah and Catcher give each other many longing looks and make the other blush. When they inevitably get together, it's a frantic and frenzied make-out session.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is the third installment in a zombie series that again includes a high body count and gruesome death scenes -- as well as a whole lot of gazing, kissing, and touching. Everyone in the books has faced death -- and has had to decide to kill or be killed. The intensity rarely lets up in the story, even in the romantic parts, which are more frequent than you'd imagine in a zombie thriller. The overwhelming message of this book -- and Ryan's entire zombie -- series is that even in the face of unrelenting misery, death, and despair, individuals can find reasons to live, love, and soldier on each day. The book's protagonist is a scrappy fighter; Annah can be jealous and insecure, but throughout the book discovers the qualities that make her special, and even beautiful, as well.
Is It Any Good?
Love triangles and never-ending zombie terror are no surprise in Ryan's books; but while formulaic, Ryan really will make readers sweat over whether the protagonists will survive. The romance may be scripted, but it's as satisfying as the action: Annah, like her identical twin, has feelings for both enigmatic Elias, whom she grew up with, and broken Catcher, who needs to heal as much as she does. Annah is a fascinating protagonist; unlike the previous protagonists, she was brought up without a mother, and hasn't had much guidance or unconditional love. Readers will cheer when Annah ultimately ends up with the right man -- and learns a powerful lesson about the importance of loving herself. In the end, there is enough action and romance to get fans to bite, even if the flavor is fairly familiar.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.