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I-5 Freeway, Southern Washington State
—ongoing concerns over scattered reports of violent, perhaps drug-induced behavior in the Seattle area,” the newscaster’s voice boomed from the BMW’s Sony speakers, filling the car as trees and farmland zipped past on either side. “While yesterday’s bizarre rampages at a boarding school in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and a diet clinic in West Palm Beach, Florida, did involve some individuals who have received the Amsterdam flu inoculation, the CDC says there is no relationship, as the vaccine has been thoroughly tested. But as a cautionary measure, further vaccinations have been halted until the nature of this—”
“Do you hear that?” Kendra Brookings asked. “Flu shot’s making people crazy.”
“Kendra, don’t exaggerate,” her mother said, weary of the argument. Cassandra Brookings had the cheekbones and carriage that said “runway” even if she’d opted for owlish glasses and a family therapist’s credentials. “These are just rumors. There are always rumors about the unknown. Millions of people have taken the flu shot, and there have been reports of, what? A handful of cases that probably aren’t connected at all? These people were probably deeply disturbed from the beginning. Do you have a mental disorder we don’t know about?”
Parents are a mental disorder—does that count? Kendra thought. Grandpa Joe, her mother’s father, had always said Mom had a naive streak a mile long. Kendra figured her mom had moved to Washington State to be closer to her father’s cabin up near Centralia, but Mom would never admit it. Stubbornness ran in the family, and forcing Kendra to get a flu shot on her sixteenth birthday was a perfect example.
“I know you’re nervous, sweet pea.” Devon Brookings was a big man in his mid-forties, a college athlete who now enjoyed couches more than wind sprints. He and Cassandra ran a family therapy/life coach business that did very well, thank you, but he was totally chair-bound: his waistline was still solid, but expanding nicely.
Dad switched radio stations, trying to cheer her up. A staccato hip-hop rhythm boomed through the speakers. “Don’t be. Doc Thorpe has overseen thousands of vaccinations, and never had a problem. Not once. A few folks faint when they see the needle, but…” He winked into the rearview mirror. Smiling. This was Dad’s idea of a joke.
“You’re not funny,” Kendra said.
“Don’t look so sour. It’s not a big deal. We’re lucky to get this shot. I didn’t want to scare you, but there’s a study…”
“Yeah, yeah, I heard about that,” Kendra said. “In school, Mr. Kaplan had told us that 125,000 people might have died from the new flu in Asia and Europe. But it’s not happening here. Pizza, burgers, and fries might be saving our butts.” Kendra herself looked too much like a typical Disney Channel Sassy Black Teenager for her own comfort: short, cute, chipmunk cheeks, perfect teeth, and eyes as bright as stars.
“I think Burger King is responsible for those rumors,” Mom said. “I wouldn’t trust Mayor McCheese if I were you.”
“That’s McDonald’s,” Kendra said. Her mother was practically a vegan, and Dad’s cooking skills topped out at pan-fried SPAM, so mealtime was an adventure.
Kendra gave up on her pleas, settling for the view as the car crossed the Interstate Bridge into Portland over the Columbia River. Portland wasn’t L.A. even in its dreams, but it was cute, like a huge small town. Dad switched off the radio so they could hear the quiet. One thing the Pacific Northwest had over L.A. was raw beauty. All Kendra remembered of grasslands and mountains in L.A. was shades of thirsty brown.
“It still rains too much,” Kendra said to her window.
“Got that right,” Dad said. “The state flower is mildew.”
“But it makes everything look so alive,” Mom said. “Remember spring?”
The last thing we talked about on the way to Portland was how pretty it is in springtime, Kendra would write in her journal later. Spring was just another season in the world’s long list of wonders I was foolish enough to take for granted.
IF YOU HAVE FLU SYMPTOMS, PLEASE PROTECT OTHER PATIENTS BY WEARING A MASK. The sign was waiting inside the hospital’s electric double doors, beside a cardboard dispenser half full of blue paper face masks. Mom quickly whipped out three masks like they were tissues and passed them around.
“But we’re not sick,” Kendra said.
“That’s right,” Mom said. “Let’s keep it that way.”
“Haven’t you heard that hospitals are the perfect place to get sick?” Dad said. As if Portland General had been her idea. “If you ever hear the word ‘iatrogenic,’ you know you’ve been screwed.” Kendra hadn’t been to an emergency room since she was four, and she didn’t watch hospital shows, so she had no real knowledge as to how crowded and depressing ERs could be. It was a den of the unfortunate, people who were coughing, dazed, or bleeding. There were at least twenty people waiting, enough to fill all but four molded plastic seats.
While Dad checked them in at the front desk, Mom and Kendra found two chairs together in a corner of the waiting room, leaving Dad to fend for himself. To Kendra’s right, an old man was nodding to sleep, a glistening snail trail dribbling from one corner of his mouth; on her left, a five-year-old boy with a homemade bandage around his head whined softly to his mother. As soon as Kendra sat down, the kid coughed up a mouthful of vomit. Some of the buttermilky glop splattered the tip of Kendra’s sneaker. She stared at the orangish flecks, horrified.
“Are you kidding me?” Kendra whispered to her mom after the kid’s mother apologized, rushing her son off to the bathroom.
“Adjust,” Mom said. “Sometimes little kids have tummy trouble.”
Yeah, big kids too, Kendra thought, her throat pinching tight. Except for the dozing old man, everyone nearby stood up to move away from the stench, giving up their seats. Despite the smell, by the time the cleaning crew arrived, newcomers had swarmed the empty seats. Kendra swore she would never visit a hospital again.
When Dad joined them, he motioned them in close for a huddle, checking to make sure no one was listening. “Twenty minutes max—maybe thirty. Then we’re in.” He sounded like they were planning a bank heist. Kendra felt sorry for the patients who really needed doctors.
Kendra hadn’t noticed the mounted television set playing overhead until someone turned up the volume, and suddenly all eyes were on the screen. Los Angeles—LIVE, it said. On TV, a street full of shoppers and Armani-clad executive types were screaming and running.
There was some kind of commotion on a street lined with palm trees and Mercedes SUVs. People fleeing. A car was on fire in the middle of a street lined with boutique windows. Kendra’s heart slammed her chest. She knew that street!
“Oh my goodness!” Mom said, alarmed. “That’s Rodeo Drive, Dev. Around the corner from your first office!”
On TV, a man swung a full-size naked mannequin like a baseball bat, slamming it into the face of a silver-haired lady clad only in a nightgown, who’d been running barefoot on his heels. The old lady flew backward like a roller skater hitting a clothesline, her legs splayed in a Y. The entire ER gasped in unison.
“We got out just in time!” Dad said. “See? Rat City. When urban areas get overcrowded—”
“That ain’t it!” A voice spoke up. The old man, at last, was awake. He smeared drool from his chin and pushed himself to his feet, leaning on the chair. “My brother’s down in a little flea of a town outside El Dorado, Arkansas. Said the same thing happened there yesterday—a nurse went batshit, biting people. Next day, folks who got bit lost their minds, trying to bite too. Says they locked ’em all up in the jail and kept it quiet. But you don’t think the government knows?”
If not for what was on TV, the old man would have sounded like a nut job.
On TV, Kendra watched a woman in a nightshirt sink her teeth into the bare forearm of a beefy jogger as he sprinted past her. She held on, teeth clenched tight, even as he yelled and tried to fling her away. The woman hung on like a pit bull, her bright red hair flying back and forth as the jogger struggled to shake her off.
Then it looked like the video camera fell over—or the man carrying it did. With one voice, the ER gasped again. All those who could rose to their feet. The TV screen went black, then returned to the newsroom. The blond Anchor Barbie looked shaken, her lips working without producing words.
“I need to call Willie,” Dad said, reaching for his cell phone. Uncle Willie was Bill Brookings, Dad’s younger brother, a television producer who lived in Bel Air, minutes from Beverly Hills. He and Aunt Janine had two kids, including Kendra’s favorite cousin, Jovana. Kendra saw her father’s hand trembling—something she’d never seen before—and felt her first shiver of terror.
Mom was shaking her head. “Mass hysteria? Look at them, Dev. What kind of delusion is this?”
The next scream wasn’t from the TV. A piercing sound, midway between human and some kind of jungle cat, came from beyond the waiting room, beyond the nurses’ station—past the double doors marked EMERGENCY PERSONNEL ONLY. Someone on the other side of the doors was in a lot of pain. Dying, perhaps. A slow, hard death.
“The damned circuits are busy,” Dad said, the only voice in the room. He was so preoccupied that he probably thought the scream was on TV.
All eyes turned from the TV to the double doors at the emergency room entrance. The three nurses at the station put away their charts and phones, staring with the rest of them. What are we waiting for? Kendra wondered, holding tightly to her mother’s arm. When the main lobby doors slid open, the rest of them found a reason to scream.
Posted June 14, 2014
Devil’s Wake and the second in the series, Domino Falls are two books I ‘ve been really wanting to dig into after reading one of the author’s fantasy books. He and his wife (writing duo for many fantasy reads) are clean solid writers and is apt at weaving character relationships which have you sitting on edge of your seat read. This style of writing is perfect for a good zombie survival book, it turns out he was able to do this and more..
Even after a month since finishing this I can remember the feelings evoked watching everyone develop fast and hard relationships and folding new found friends into the fold with ease. The cast is simple and part of the cast is going to be your quick survival tip, intrigued? I bet as soon as you read the list here you will know exactly … well let’s get on with this quick cast overview.
Kendra Brookings is the sixteen year-old who remembers exactly where she was when the virus started running rapid in Portland. She was sitting in the ER waiting to get the coveted flu shot, one of the last ones in the area. Ended up being a good thing they left when people started attacking everyone in the ER or the protagonists being infected would have caused the story to go a completely different direction. Her mother, before succumbing to the virus, locks her in the basement and makes her promise to not answer the door without hearing her grandfather’s safe word.
Joseph is her maternal grandfather and thankfully her mother was able to get through as the first words she heard which were not from her mother now crazed and wanting to attack her since becoming full blown infected, she has not talked to anyone, has been living in fear and ignorance for days. The great thing which has been hinted at is Joseph is also a survivalist who has a place in the woods of the Olympic Peninsula. (Another reason this gal wanted to read it since I am from the Pacific NW).
Down the road a bit from Joseph’s place is a place called Round Meadows Five run by Vern and Molly. Vern and a handful of the kids at this juvenile camp were in Seattle’s famous Farmer’s Market. This was really a good flash of these incredible monsters Barnes created for the readers, fantastic imagery here!
Then we have the Round Meadows gang; Terry is a councilor who was sentenced as such after shooting his abusive stepfather with a nail gun (snort). Chuck aka Piranha is a big daunting person, when you find out what he was sentenced for you will giggle a bit. He is one of my favorite characters. Dean and Darius are Squamish Indians. They are the pretty boys who look like twins but actually are cousins. These two really add a circle of diversity to the crew. Heck Dean is not even sentenced but he is there to be with his brother, who is being sentenced for auto-theft. You seeing some patterns here? Well you are right too!
The camp’s last juvenile offender is Sonia and is the only girl in the Round Meadows Five. She was sentenced to the camp for shoplifting. But don’t let her simple crime fool you, she is one heck of a complex character.
old-blue-busLastly we have the camp dog, Hipshot. He is extremely friendly and loyal. On top of it all, they have the cousin’s motorcycles and a big old camp school bus. It may help they reach one of their first goals, a military base where they are joined by Ursalina after she loses her partner.
Joseph has been working Kendra through learning how to hunt, shoot; not just use a weapon but take care of it so it always works. She is just beginning to come out of her shell, she even spoke for the first time the morning her grandfather was attacked during a normal trading trip. The only thing she knows is Domino’s Falls is what is being told as a safe zone and if she has too, she will walk it.
I felt that over all giving you a window into these characters will truly give you a good intro into why you would want to pick the series up. They keep developing, it is realistic while still maintaining the moments of miracle escapes, unlikely surprises, devastation on a level which no one can possibly escape from yet they do without being so unbelievable it creates eye-rolling annoyance for zombie novel readers.
Zombies are wonderful, you cannot make them sparkly, cannot dress them up in pretty boy clothes which make the girls swoon or be buff alpha “dogs” which under the full moon could either love you or eat your heart out of the chest they just ripped out. Barnes and Due, a husband and wife team, have delved into the world of zombies. Sociological and cultural terror where the monsters are part of the world build and the characters developing relationships and how they cope and evolve into the world which has changed so completely around them.
This could be labeled a YA novel, in fact I would totally do so. Older YA (the author’s label it as YA+) though since the gore and gun toting characters are violent, kind of have to be it is a zombie read! Heck the violence really is not even close to some of the dystopian reads for young adults. The kids are kids, and they are not just dealing with world problems but their own coming of age problems. Love, life and loss which would devastate the strongest of adults, and does. These guys pull it together and because of, not despite, their age they are not stuck in the old dogs tricks. Plus we all know there is going to be love interests, it is a given in any horror read like this! ESPECIALLY the norm for zombie survival movies.
If you like a great zombie read which has fun moments as well as the appropriate amount of terror and heartache, I recommend the series. Plus you may want to read it because it is coming soon to a big screen near you, (see announcement HERE). Tonya Lewis Lee, Spike Lee‘s wife and a producer at ToniK Productions got in touch with them after seeing their 18 minute feature short based on a story within the the novel, Devil’s Wake (see below).
My only issue was with how it ended, it felt unfinished and I was extremely thrilled to have found the two books in the series after both had been published. Remember though in any zombie read the biggest monsters end up not being hungry flesh eating freaks. Friends are the most important thing to have and to hold onto in this world, remember that. But… if they had given us more information at the end we would not have the need to flesh-out the story happening in their pit-stop to Devil’s Wake at Domino Falls (review coming in the next week).
Posted May 20, 2013
Posted April 7, 2013
Southern Washington State: Sixteen-year-old Kendra Washington is taken to the hospital by her parents to get a flu shot. On the way to the hospital, the radio reports violent behavior in the Seattle area and that “as a cautionary measure, further vaccinations have been halted…” Kendra tries to convince her parents to forgo the flu shot but they insist that it was just rumors and that it was perfectly safe. This did nothing to ease Kendra’s fear. When they got to the hospital something bizarre happens, people became crazed and began biting each other. Although, Kendra and her parents got away, unfortunately her father was a victim of this bite. With more reports coming through the radio that folks that are bitten first fall asleep and when they awaken they are zombie-like with red eyes and red tendrils hanging from their face. Before this could happen, Kendra’s father ran off so as not to hurt his family. Her mother was eventually bitten by a neighbor and forced Kendra to lock herself in the basement until she heard the secret word.
Round Meadows Summer Camp, in the Olympic Forest Area in Washington: The manager Vern was bitten in town with Terry (one of the juveniles who was to stay at the camp.)Although Vern seemed to look normal on the way back to the camp, his wife Molly took him to nurse him back to health. Later that night Vern was anything but okay. He was one of those crazed zombie-like people. Some of them are flesh eating and unfortunately Molly just so happened to be one of these casualties.The problem now was to survive this apocalypse that seemed to be sweeping across the nation. The remaining campers were all juveniles. Besides Terry, there was Piranha, Dean, Darius, Sonia and the dog Hipshot. They tried to survive the best they could. With all the food that was in the freezer they stayed as long as they could. When it began to get cold they knew it was time to move on and try somewhere else because it was only a matter of time before they became victims.
They all pile upon the camp bus and put the snow chains on and head for someplace more civilized and safe. Along the way they pick up Kendra on the side of the road and another person by the name of Ursalina. Along their travels they overhear static on the radio saying there is shelter and a safe place to stay: Devil’s Wake. This is where their destination winds up being, as long as the old bus can get them there.
“Devil’s Wake”by Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due was a very good read. Unbeknownst to me, I accidentally read DOMINO FALLS first so I knew how the story played out more. I still enjoyed reading this novel. Although this could have easily rated as a 5–star read, I had to give it 4 stars because it still does not give a clear understanding exactly how this epidemic broke out. Everything is kind of speculative and rumored. Other than that, it was a story that had a lot of action and the reader is definitely drawn into the story and easily connects to the characters. If you like movies such as I AM LEGEND and zombie related movies, you’re sure to enjoy this one.
Reviewed by LeonaR
Posted August 24, 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I like how there were background stories on
the characters which made you feel for them and relate more. I also
like how there was an actual (believable) reason given for the outbreak.
This book made me want to read more and opened me up to more zombie-type
novels. I am looking forward to reading more.
Posted August 9, 2012
It was a very slow weird start. Wasn't surue where they were trying to go as the story was all over the place. Will read the second book to see it gets any better. Normally I love Tananarive Due books still not sure about this one !Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 8, 2012
No text was provided for this review.
Posted October 15, 2012
No text was provided for this review.