cover image Welcome to Deadland

Welcome to Deadland

Zachary Tyler Linville. Nerdist, $24.99 (424p) ISBN 978-1-941758-85-4

Debut author Linville, whose manuscript for this novel won a publishing contest jointly sponsored by crowdfunded publishing platform Inkshares and all-things-nerd media company Nerdist, embraces the tropes of the undead apocalypse while exploring a new storytelling format for the genre. Asher is a college student on the run from the undead, heading to an unlikely refuge with a woman he barely knows. Rico is a high school dropout making a desperate escape from Miami while trying to protect his little brother as the world burns. The events of the story deliver all the action expected for this genre, and it cleverly alternates between postapocalyptic survival and events pre-plague. Linville twists the timeline so that the ending is the beginning. By unraveling parallel stories that threaten to destroy his protagonists by methods both mundane and zombie, Linville creates a horrifying tale of human inhumanity. The bravery of his characters becomes more admirable as their separate stories become intertwined. Though the writing has some beginner notes, it is engaging, heartbreaking, and thrilling, with an expert pace that never touches the brakes. (Aug.)