Title: Waiting for Daybreak
Author: Amanda McNeil
Waiting for Day Break, by my friend Amanda McNeil, is an interesting twist on a traditional zombie story. I enjoy zombie stories, but I wouldn’t call myself a big fan. I read this book for a few reasons: I enjoy zombie stories, Amanda is my friend, I like reading, and I am part of her blog tour.
Waiting for Day Break is not a long book, probably about 100 pages if it were in print. It was an easy read and one I was able to quickly get into. Most of our story happens after a zombie apocalypse. Frieda, our heroine, is still trying to survive on her own with her kitty in an apartment in Boston/Brookline. The first half is mostly about her remembering what has happened and her immediate survival. The second half focuses on what happens when she finds another survivor. The heart of this story has to do with the type of people who survived and what that means for Frieda’s future. The story focuses a lot on what it means to be normal in any version of the world.
While I enjoyed the book, it was a small struggle for me. Amanda is my first friend to publish a book and the first friend I have read. I don’t mean that I just know her and we converse, but I consider Amanda a close friend. She is someone I spend time with, vent to, listen to and all that comes with friendship. Reading this felt like I was reading a diary or like I was in someone’s head. I was reading themes and issues that I heard in conversations. It was uncomfortable for a little while in the beginning. Still, I was able to put it aside, especially when Frieda was not living in her own head. Even though I know Frieda is not Amanda, she was a character I could understand because I know people like it. I realized, when reading it, I have many friends who struggle with anxiety and I had to wonder how many actually deal with it as Frieda does?
What I loved about this book was that it dealt with the idea of the actual reason people survived. Why wasn’t Frieda infected? It touches lightly on what could be a heavy medical topic. What always frustrates with about Zombie Virus stories is that nobody really talks about the science in an in depth way. I am not seeking real science, but some sort of explanation about what happened (other than, the virus escaped). What were they trying to accomplish by creating what became our Zombie Virus? What impact did it have? Why was it transmitted by bite? These are questions survivors never really get to ask or get answers to. This is why I loved World War Z, by the way. Amanda seeks to address this in a small way when she starts to see similarities she has to Mike. She begins to wonder, but she is unable to do more than that given what happens. Amanda did a great job of leaving it open for more without compromising the story at hand. She gives us plenty to think about so that she has content to bring into a future sequel.
There were two big problems I had. The problem first was with voice. I have an addiction to passive voice. I find, especially in fiction, passive voice works better, especially for first person accounts. It flows better. Amanda seems to prefer active voice and, to me, it was choppy and didn’t flow. She is not consistent though. She switches between passive and active voice. New chapters tend to start in active voice and switch to passive. I think an editor is needed to help Amanda be more consistent.
My second problem was with Mike. I liked that Frieda found someone, but too much is skipped over for me to feel any connection with the last quarter of the book. I felt that there was no build-up to our climax. She finds Mike, they really connect and then suddenly he has a mental break and the climax just happens. I needed a build up. I needed to be able to go back and see the hints as to what was coming. I get that it was sudden and unexpected for Frieda, but who doesn’t look back (when they have a moment to reflect) and realize they could have seen that coming. Amanda does not give the reader the ability to do that.
I will end by saying I was very scared the cat would die. I mean, I was ready to be very mad about it. Frieda’s panic to save her cat was something that I got very into. I was going to put the book down and just write a review yelling at Amanda about how she could dare to do that. This is how involved i got in the cat’s life. It kept me flying through the middle of the book. I would not put it down until I had found out the cat’s fate. Nicely played…