“Laura and the Shadow King” sounds far more ominous than the story actually is: “Shadow” is the name of an elite force of military operatives, and “King” is the nickname of the man in charge of shadow—J.J. Berger. In J. J’s world, a rampant disease has swept through civilization, turning people into a type of zombie, where they devolve into cannibalistic animals, and one bite will infect and turn a person into one of them. Governments have collapsed and the only people in charge are groups of militia, military units, and gangs. It’s a fairly familiar storyline, but the one thing that makes it unique is Laura and her mother, and their role in this new world. Unfortunately, I found the writing style to be the biggest determent in my enjoyment of the novel.
The writing is rather dry, and with so many characters, you never really get to know any of them beyond J.J., Paige, and Maria. Laura is more of just along for the ride. The writing does a lot of telling, and therefore the characters always came across as superficial to me, two dimensional and lacking the depth that this kind of storyline, one that is so familiar, really needs to make it stand apart from other dystopian zombie novels. And while I think the author was trying to be impactful or dramatic with the writing style, it often came across as repetitive to me where the same thing would be repeated over and over in the same paragraph. Additionally, Laura and King’s story are pretty independent of one another until about 70% of the way through the book. Until that point, you are watching Maria flee across the country with her daughter to get away from their sadistic captors, and you watch as Shadow company goes on a mission to find a lost group, which will then put them in the path of Maria and her daughter.
The action in the book is well done though and fits very well with a true militaristic style action-thriller. The violence—mostly against women—can be very graphic at times though, more so then when the army types are shooting at each other, so just be aware going in if you are sensitive to that kind of graphic violence/torture. But the whole reason why Maria and Laura are being hunted with such brutality is interesting! I can’t say more in order to avoid spoilers, but I will say that I found them be truly unique in this type of zombie novel. I only wish we had seen more of it, more of Maria and Laura in action, before the book abruptly ended. All in all, this was a quick read even though the writing style and the characters didn’t connect with me personally, though fans of zombie and military stories may feel differently! But that’s why I am giving this book 3 stars, and thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review.
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