Sadie Walker is Stranded is the second book in Madeleine Roux’s Zombie series, and as with Allison Hewitt is Trapped I was drawn into the story from pretty much the first chapter. There’s a fair amount of action, emotional and romantic elements, and of course zombies.
However, it did take a while for it to feel like a zombie book. There isn’t much zombie action until at least 100 pages in and even then it is only small pockets of zombie action. I wish there was more. Allison Hewitt is Trapped is full to the brim with zombieness, and combined with the human aspect, was perfectly balanced. Unfortunately, Sadie Walker is Stranded isn’t quite so balanced, and therefore didn’t rock my socks off. However, it was still a really good read.
Sadie is looking after her nephew, Shane, since her sister, Kat and her husband were killed. He’s everything she’s got and she feels the weight of this on her shoulders and takes bringing him up seriously. In a world full of zombies, you’d think that the united fear and loathing of these creatures would pull everyone together, but you’d be wrong. There’s still evil people doing evil things and unfortunately she finds out she’s dating one of them. He kidnaps her nephew for cash and tries to sell him to another couple while their town’s borders are breached with thousands of zombies. Luckily Sadie and her friend manage to find her nephew, where upon they all board a small boat to escape the ever growing zombie horde and head out to sea.
Sadie’s worry at being a good ‘parent’ plays on her mind a lot, which I found endearing at first. But she constantly proclaims how bad she is at it and keeps apologising to her nephew for being such a failure. This got irritating after a while. As well as not being good for her nephew to hear, she doesn’t do anything particularly wrong and so I couldn’t really understand where she was coming from, and I found myself just getting annoyed at all her self declarations of bad parenting.
Shane is very quiet and hardly speaks. I thought it was down to losing his parents, the zombies etc and that we would see his character grow as the story moved along, but it didn’t. He doesn’t engage in much conversation, with Sadie or the others in the group, although he does enjoy looking at the drawings Sadie’s does for him. However, he doesn’t really act like a young boy and most of the time sits about staring. The descriptions of his actions, facial expressions and mannerisms made me feel that maybe he is slightly autistic.
Sadie wasn’t as strong a character as Allison Hewitt. She isn’t very consistent and is all over the place. One minute a frightened women who relies on others to protect her and her nephew, and the next minute acting like Lara Croft, brandishing a bow and arrow and heading off into unknown forests to look for food only to, predictably, come upon a few zombies.
There is also a bit too much repetition too. There was a lot of Sadie goes to sleep only to be woken by something bad. I think I counted four times this technique was used and for me this is too much.
There is a lot right with this book too. There’s a few really good stand out characters, and the romantic element, although not as moving and poignant as Allison Hewitt, is nice. The action scenes that are present are fast-paced and exciting.
There is one particular scene that is really chilling. Sadie is taking a much needed bath in the Sea, she is enjoying it until the inevitable happens:
“Okay,” I said after less than a minute of splashing around, “I need to get out…. preferably now, before the blood freezes in my veins.”
The railing above me was awfully quiet. I glanced up. Andrea was gone, nowhere to be found. She had taken Shane with her. “Son of a bitch,” I shouted. “This isn’t funny! Andrea! Andrea? Shane?”
There was a commotion on the other side of the boat, shrieking and screaming and the sound of arms beating the water. My heart sank like a lead ball to my numb little toes.
Something was in the water.
Here’s one thing I’m now damn certain of: being chased by water zombies around a boat can turn a landlubber like me into Michael fucking Phelps on steroids. I didn’t look back, knowing I might catch a glimpse of one of the undead coming for me…
Each of my clumsy strokes was punctuated with a girlish squeak of hysteria. A thin rope ladder swung back and forth, just a few yards ahead. Moritz, bless his heart, was already over the edge of the ladder, waiting for me to get close. He was just in time. Something unnaturally strong tugged on my ankle, hard, nearly pulling me under.
After a while at sea, and a few scary moments, the survivors find themselves an island. They are not alone… Things move along at a much better from this moment and there is even an interesting mystery element that I actually couldn’t work out, which was refreshing. New characters are introduced, and so is Sadie’s love interest. There’s a couple of predictable, stereotypical characters too, including the bitch from hell, a glamour puss, and the weak one. But there are also rivalries and jealousies, as well as tender moments, so all in all an interesting bunch.
Although I had a few issues with Sadie Walker is Stranded and didn’t find it as compelling and emotional as Allison Hewitt is Trapped, overall I really enjoyed it. I hope there will be more to come from Madeleine Roux and her Zombie series.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Sadie Walker is Stranded by Madeleine Roux
Horror / Zombies
Headline (Jan 2012)
Paperback: 337 pages