Review: Barely Alive by Bonnie R Paulson

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About the book:

In twelve weeks, seventeen-year-old Paul Ledger will be dead. At least he hopes so.

Paul is trapped in the worst cult the United States has ever seen. Infected with a zombie virus, symptoms culminate in a dead body but thriving mind over a course of twelve weeks. If he doesn’t earn the final death he longs for, he’ll be chained in a basement facility, moaning for human flesh for eternity.

Sent out to kidnap girls for food, toys, or whatever the boss wants, Paul nabs Heather McCain. He’s not a fan of humans as a general rule, but even his graying skin and insatiable hunger for her flesh don’t stop her from reaching out to him. Give him the second chance he doesn’t know he needs.

Overcome by his cravings, Paul bites her delectable skin. Amazingly, she doesn’t develop the zombie-like side effects. When the boss discovers Heather’s immunity, he gives Paul an ultimatum – deliver up Heather and her family to continue the research or watch as Paul’s brother suffers the zombie fate.

Paul has a chance to endure his short zombie existence knowing his brother is safe. But he’ll have to sacrifice Heather to do it.

Cover of Barely Alive by Bonnie R Paulson

Click to try the preview and to buy.

Review by Katy Haye:

Warning: mild spoilers ahead.

This week is my “B” week, and I really enjoyed Barely Alive … but for one thing.

The premise was good: I don’t know enough science to make head or tail of the virus behind it, but it sounded convincing. Zombie and romance are two genres I wasn’t expecting to see together, but I’m kind of delighted that there’s now a genre of “zombie romance” – literature really does cater to all tastes. The romance was good, well balanced against the drama of the situation. I wouldn’t normally pick up a horror novel, but I’m not sure I’d peg this as horror. There were some scenes with a degree of gore, but I’m the most squeamish person on the planet and there was nothing that turned my stomach particularly.

Plot and pacing were sound and the writing was convincing.

It would have been a solid 4, but my “but” is a biggie – it’s only half a book. As we ticked into the 90%s (I read on kindle) I was thinking we were running out of time for a resolution… Well, yeah. We stopped in the middle of things. None of the story threads were fully resolved: the romance wasn’t completed, the virus hasn’t been cured, the bad guy is still at large. But there also wasn’t a dramatic cliffhanger to make me HAVE to read on, it just ended. I’m sorry, but that made it a miss for me.

Katy Haye is reading her way through the alphabet during the first half of 2017. Keep posted for reviews from A – Z on this site. When not reading, she writes fast-paced fantasy for YA readers. Her new release, Discord, is now available.

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