I’ll try to keep this spoiler free as best I can, however I may need to address certain points in order to effectively manage expectations for this book. First and foremost, this is not the book Remade, nor is it a lazy rehash of Remade. If you get this book expecting more people dissolving in gruesome detail or a seat-of-your-pants thrill-ride like in the one found in book one you may be disappointed. If you want that story, go and reread Remade. This story, like the virus itself, has been Reborn (see what I did there?). This is how a sequel is supposed to go. Aliens did it following Alien as did The Empire Strikes Back followed A New Hope. They didn’t give us more of the same, they continued the story.
Reborn also has that The Day of the Triffids / The Walking Dead vibe, including the ‘scavenging for canned goods’, ‘avoiding the hoards of killing-things’ and ‘coming across other survivors’ tropes we all know and love.
What makes this story stand out is the body-swap aspect which really makes for quite the uncomfortable read. Not uncomfortable as in body horror necessarily but more as in that feeling of impending doom. Usually there’s the group of survivors and you know that one of them is not who they seem to be and have the tension come from not knowing which one it is. In this case, we not only know who it is all along, but we also see things from their perspective and what they’re doing. This has essentially body-swapped out the expected thriller aspect with a totally different thriller aspect coupled with a big helping of discomfort. You’re watching these survivors doing their best to keep it all together, thinking they’re as safe as they’re can be, but you know better. Instead of the usual sudden but inevitable collapse of safety, you’re included in the machinations behind every step of it. If you were watching this, you’d be shouting at the screen at the hapless humans telling them to “Getouttathere!”. I found it worked well in heightening the stress, you can see it coming, you know it’s coming, you just down know how it’s going to go down and to whom. As already mentioned, this makes you feel very uncomfortable as you’re as powerless as the characters are to do anything about it (short of shutting the book and leaving them all safe at that point in time).
Some effort has been made to develop the characters more, even the new ones. In the first book, there wasn’t the time for the characters to learn more about each other and themselves. This book has the time to do that and every character who is lost, is a real blow. Not just because of who they were to you, but because of who they were to the other characters you also care about.
If you found the first book squeamish, you might find this one more to your tastes. There is a little of that, I’m not saying the book is devoid of melting people, but there’s a lot less of it. Some of the later creature manifestations actually reminded me of the non-zombie creatures from Resident Evil (not the films).
Look out for Alex Scarrow’s shameless plug for Zombie Last Stands on page 120. It made me laugh. And I say, “Why not?”. There are a number of other pop-culture references in this book, might as well add your own as well.
Now for the negatives. These are a little nit-picky as I really enjoyed this book:
As mentioned at the beginning, the story has moved on from the first book. If you manage your expectations, this shouldn’t be a problem but I can see some people having issues because of it. It didn’t bother me, but I was aware of it.
I did find Leon and Freya’s acceptance of -Sorry can’t tell you BIG spoiler there- to be a little bit quick. After what they’d seen and been through, I would have thought they’d be very alert for anything remotely hinky. People behaving odd is a big indication of BAD STUFF and it was hard to believe they didn’t pick up on it.
It did feel like half a book. This may be down to my having waited for it so long, reading it so quickly and only to finish with those dreaded words “To be continued” and the next book still being written. It doesn’t leave on a cliff-hanger as much as there’s still a lot left unresolved and yet to be revealed.
This was a solid sequel in a story that’s evolved as much as it’s content. It’s the ‘last-survivors’ type material we have seen before, but with a good body-swap slant to it.
Score: Buy it
I’ve also reviewed book 1: Remade