Just reactions to books I read. I don't really summarize the book's content, because how hard is it to click on the cover and read the description?
So I just write my response.
Eh, maybe like 3.5+ stars but I'm feeling generous. It's one of those books that is well done, so you're happy with it and glad you read it and will read another one in the series ... but then you look at other books you've rated four stars and you kind of feel like it wasn't on the same level. And although I enjoyed it and read it in one night, I won't re-read it.
Anyway, the slow start set up the whole thing, of course, so I guess I can't be too disappointed. As soon as he gets out of his bunker the story takes off.
The setup was original, which was nice. He isn't just trying to survive the apocalypse, but actually has a purpose for which he has been trained (which is to rebuild and re-establish stable communities in his area.) Of course it all goes to hell pretty quickly, but the purpose is still there and it's a unique way to start off and give the hero motivation beyond survival -- especially since so many other elements are typical of the genre (warlords, packs of men hunting others, fights for supplies and weapons, the implied rapes and murders and so on).
The zombies are a bit like the ones in the movie The Crazies -- a little smarter than the typical shuffling undead, and the story seems to be setting up some zombie evolution, which is all good. I like it when the zombie problems go from "avoid those things" to "oh god they're going to hunt us down and they might be smart," simply because it raises the stakes.
Characterization is fine. We only really get to know Lee, the hero, and he's the type of narrator whose head I don't mind being in for a while. Secondary characters are pretty thinly drawn, but I expect they will be filled out in later books. Which brings me to...
The most disappointing aspect: I'll have to read about five more books to get the whole story, since there seem to be zero standalone post-apocalyptic books out there nowadays, but at least it was an entertaining and well-written beginning. I don't MIND reading more of this author's work, because it was good enough.
Still. I'm tired of books that end on cliffhangers and don't give me an entire story, so I'm taking my frustration out on this book.
It's also too bad that half the reviews on Amazon look fake. The story stands up well on its own. It probably didn't need what looks like a ton of paid-for 5-star reviews that basically say, "This was awesome! I can't wait to read more!" (and of course they've never written any other reviews) because enough real people seemed to be saying it, too. So it makes me trust the author a bit less.