Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater

by Rhiannon Frater
Release Date: November 8th, 2011
2011 Tor Books
Softcover Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3127-4
Genre: Dystopian / Science-Fiction
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4.5 / 5 Books

The hundred or so survivors in the fortified heart of Ashley Oaks are running out of food and room.  The newly renovated hotel seems a perfect sanctuary - if it can be emptied of zombies.

As search-and-rescue teams bring food, supplies - and more survivors - back to town, they draw unwanted attention.  The bandits' first few attacks are minor skirmishes, but Travis and Juan, unofficial leaders of the community, know there is worse to come.

Outside threats are not the fort's only concern.  The mayor's failing health spurs a battle for power.  A vicious assault leads to vigilante action hat shatters the rule of law.  Jenni's tenuous hold on sanity begins to slip.  Juan is accused of murder.

And beyond the fort's walls the zombies shamble, moaning, eyes fasted hungrily upon the living.

My Thoughts
Fighting to Survive is the second novel in the trilogy As The World Dies, and focuses on the trials and tribulations the survivors face once the shock of the zombie apocalypse has now worn off and they are faced with the day-to-day living in a world that has turned upside-down.  While I enjoyed the first novel in the series very much, I really enjoyed this one too, if for very different reasons.

The focus of this book is to deal first of all with the daily trials of living in a world that is completely different from what they once new, basically survival and using all of their skills to prepare for the upcoming winter.  Woven through the threads of day-to-day living is the excitement of dealing with a vigilante who is taking steps to deal with people who can't cope with survival, bandits who are trying to steal ammunition, food, and women, as well as the inside politics of a mayor who is sick and trying to decide who will now lead their diverse community.  Within all of this is the safety of the community and trying to protect themselves from the unrelenting approach of the zombies.  While the focus was on character development and survival, I found the pacing of the novel to be quite fast and unrelenting, and I found it quite difficult to close the book at night. 

The author focused quite a bit on character development and the coming to terms with the world around them.  While it didn't have the same pace and tension of the first novel, for me I liked the change of pace and seeing how the survivors would cope with the new world.  And I could sense a thread developing throughout the novel which bore fruit at the end, and it definitely sounds like the third novel is going to pick up pace again.  Personally, I found the stresses and challenges of day-to-day living, and coping with the zombies, to be realistic and I know I wondered throughout the first novel how they would survive so this answered that question.  I thought the author did a fantastic job with the multiple plot points, weaving them around great characterization, and blending them together seamlessly towards the end, in an ending that just makes me want to run out and grab the third book. 

Nerit is one of my favourite characters in this novel as I like her no-nonsense approach to survival and her 'it has to get done' mentality.  She's a bit frightening at times and I've often wondered if I would be capable of doing what needs to be done if I was in that situation.  I have to admit that some of the final scenes with the bandits did kind of floor me as I was not expecting some of things to do down as they did, with the coldness that they did, and it shocked and surprised me.  I also wondered what kinds of repercussions there would be from the events.  The differing POVs also helped quite a bit as you were able to find out what the different characters were thinking throughout all the events and I really liked that.  I know it bothers some people, but the author did it so seamlessly that I found it helped moved the story along rather than hinder it.  Katie and Jenni once again prove how strong and powerful they are as women, and the secondary characters are just as fleshed out as the main characters, which is why this novel ends up being as powerful, suspenseful, and emotional as it is. 

Fighting to Survive is suspenseful, emotional, and fascinating.  It blends humour with horror, and has a way of gripping the reader right from the beginning with its great characterization and interesting plot.  I am definitely looking forward to reading Siege, the final volume in the trilogy.


  1. I loved this one too! Rhiannon writes really great characters that you just fall for!

  2. I was a little skeptical about this trilogy too. When I started however, I just couldn't stop and now I can't wait until Siege is released in April.

  3. Thanks for such a thorough review. I don't normally read Science Fiction but I'll put this on my list.