Book Review: Survival Kit by A. H. Haga
This isn't your average post-apocalyptic zombie survival novel. And I mean that in the best way possible.
The first thing that sets this story apart is the main character, Kit. We have some great own voices disability representation here with our protagonist being in a wheelchair due to a condition called myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). I really didn't know much about ME before reading this book, but it definitely doesn't make surviving hoards of the undead any easier. Our other protagonist is Kit's wife Shadia, and the dynamic between them was really well-written. It was awesome to see how they each supported each other in various ways as they leave their home and seek safety elsewhere. They each have their own strengths and get each other through some really difficult situations. The book presents Kit's disability in a respectful way while also showing how creative and adaptive she and Shadia have to be in order to travel and fight off the zombies.
There are a few other ways that this book is unique compared to other zombie stories. It takes place in Norway, whereas most of the zombie stories I've seen are set in the US. This was a great choice that set the story apart in one key way: guns. When we see zombie stories set in the US, everyone has a gun, and that's believable given the prevalence of firearms here in the US. But in Norway, that's not the case, so our characters aren't running around shooting zombies and instead have to dispatch them in a way that's much more up-close-and-personal. This created some very intense action scenes that really added to the external conflict of the story. The way the zombie outbreak spreads is also very unique and unlike anything I've seen in other zombie stories. There were a few places where my suspension of disbelief was tested, but hey, it's zombies. How much believability do we really need?
My only complaints about the story were related to the writing itself and the pacing. The writing is a little clunky in places and could have been cleaned up a little, but I did get an ARC so I'm going to give the book the benefit of the doubt that some of those edits will be made upon its release. i had a bigger issue with the pacing. There were a lot of instances where we were just told what was happening. Towards the end there was an entire chapter that was just telling, and I wished we had gotten to see those scenes actually unfolding or just had them cut altogether. I also found the structure of the book to be a little unusual. Toward the end, I kept expecting us to get to some big climax so I was anticipating more conflict, but it never came, and looking back I realized that the climax had actually probably come a lot earlier in the story. So that was definitely different than what I was used to, but I still liked the ending overall. It's not all sunshine and roses, which feels appropriate for a story like this.
If you like zombie stories or post-apocalyptic settings, but you're tired of seeing the same old tropes over and over again, you should definitely check this book out. It's very unique and the characters are fantastic. You can preorder it now on Amazon. Survival Kit releases on January 5, 2020.