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4.0 out of 5 starsI want more
Reviewed in Canada on June 30, 2016
Another page-turner. The stories are once again very compelling and hard to put down, but dammit, the book ends too soon! Write more please.
5.0 out of 5 starsThe Next Series you Need to Read
Reviewed in Australia on May 29, 2016
There is a point - a moment in time - when a writer works their way into your top five, and in this case, it's a duo. It's become natural that when I'm passed a book by McBain and Vargus that I get a little giddy and fuzzy inside, knowing that inside the cover, there is a dark and wonderful place I will soon be engrossed in. A world of realistic characters that will push the boundaries.
In this case, it was the next installment of The Scattered and the Dead series, Book 1.5. For those who have followed the rest of the series, you will already know that this is the second of the 'in between' books - the second of a collection that exists within the world of the survivors - just one of the remarkable twists in this series. This time, we follow the lives of some recurring characters as well as some new characters that so wonderfully intertwine with the story we already know.
Is there a point where I have to step down from my reviewer's platform because of my intense love of anything these writer's throw at me? Or is it a perk of the job? I'm going to go with the latter, and it's simple why. As I've followed the work of McBain and Vargus over several books and two series, I've watched them grow. Blossom. Their unique style is paramount to their growing success, and it is no doubt the reason they will become household names in the future.
Their writing is fearless. Vivid. Brilliantly twisted. Every time I pick up their next offering I find that first paragraph that explains the world in such an altered way and remember why I can't get enough.
So what is so wonderful about these writers? I've read reviews comparing McBain and Vargus to King (another author in my top five), a compliment that cannot be topped, and it is nothing but the truth. Their ability to weave a dark tale laced with wonderfully intricate characters that affect you in so many different ways is faultless.
This particular installment begs the question: What are the effects of isolation? Who is going to survive? And perhaps, it's not who you expect. This series is about the characters within the setting of a zombie apocalypse, yet the investment you will find in the characters themselves will make the zombie apocalypse a side story; a background for what is really happening.
This series is noteworthy. The writers are exceptional. There's no better reason to pick up this book and read it.
5.0 out of 5 starsNow is the winter of our apocalypse...
Reviewed in the United States on May 26, 2016
Like the Scattered and the Dead 0.5, I read 1.5 in one sitting because I couldn't stop. I had to see what would happen. The authors know how to write a story that won't let you go. I'm still thinking about everything that went down, turning over how it could all too easily become reality for mankind—just add apocalypse.
The creepiest parts of this story was the isolated characters' slow slide into dark superstitions. Weird little ideas that might have been easily dismissed Before with the distractions of technology start to take on a life of their own After, where there's nothing but cold and dark and time to think. Suspicions grow and twist into obsessions, and those morph into horrific actions. It was inevitable and awful, and McBain and Vargus never give the reader a chance to look away. The writing is stark, almost painfully clear, and serves to reinforce that this new world is a one without the same brand of hope as the old world, even as one of the characters is offered a fresh start.
The Scattered and the Dead 1.5 is also a volume of Postcards from an Empty World, the collections Baghead has become famous (or infamous) for publishing, and it offers us clues as to why Father wants Baghead dead. When viewed from that angle, it's not just an awesome read, it's an awesome piece of world-building metafiction. Unlike other works of metafiction, though, it isn't alienating or sarcastic. As the reader, you're both completely enmeshed in the characters' accounts and aware of the stories stretching across the Scattered and the Dead series. It's brilliant.