Can you survive a zombie apocalypse?
Fiend | Peter Stenson
Genre(s): Apocalyptic, Horror
Published: July 9, 2013 | Crown Publishing
Get It Here | Goodreads
I received this novel in exchange for an honest review. This will not alter my opinion.
When Chase Daniels first sees the little girl in Umbrella socks tearing open the rottweiler, he's not too concerned. As a long-time meth addict, he's no stranger to horrifying, drug-fueled hallucinations. But as soon as he and his fellow junkies discover, the little girl is no illusion. The end of the world really has arrived. The funny thing is, Chase's life was over long before the apocalypse got here, his existence already reduced to a stinking basement apartment and a filthy mattress and an endless grind of buying, selling, and using. He's lied, cheated, and stolen and broken his parent's hearts a thousand times. And he threw away his only shot at sobriety a long time ago, when he chose to embrace the drug over them woman he loves.
And if you're life's already shattered beyond any normal hopes of redemption... well, maybe the end of the world is an opportunity. Maybe it's a last chance to hit restart and become the man he once dreamed of being. Soon he's fighting to reconnect with his lost love and dreaming of becoming her hero among civilization's ruins. But is salvation just another pipe dream?
The real question is, can a meth addict survive a zombie apocalypse?
Wassup fANGIRL Readers,
I want to start out by saying that I've been reading a whole lot of crazy this month. I guess it's fitting being that Halloween is right around the corner. Judging by the cover, would I have ever guessed this story would be wild, fun, and absolutely crazy? Of course?! You guys know me by now, you know how much I love my dysfunctional reads, and by that cover art I knew it would be right up my alley. I mean look at it. There's a skull, which totally screams, "Danger, Danger." which in my mind translates to "Read me, Read me." Then you have the two syringes crossing each other, which immediately gave me the impression that the main character would be a drug abuser. I happen to enjoy that aspect in books okay! But, what I wasn't expecting, was a apocalypse. Correction, a zombie apocalypse, that completely captivates you from page one.
Enter Chase Daniels. From the very first sentence you know something is completely off with this guy. He's chilling at his friend Typewriter's home, when he takes a ride to ecstasy after hitting some "glass" he had stashed. Yep, our main character is a 25 year old meth addict. But you don't get much time to react to this revelation because in comes the craziness. The sun is bright as he looks out of Typewriter's, (his real name is John) window. There he sees a young girl. A young girl with blonde hair and umbrella socks, looking like she's innocently playing with a rottweiler. The dog snaps at the young girl, and in return she reciprocates by lunging towards the dog and ripping a gaping hole in his throat . . . with her teeth.
What . In . The . World . Just . Happened .
Chase and I seemed to share a common reaction, the only thing we have in common, to this scene. He closes his eyes, rubs them, and proceeds to do his famous "one one thousand, two one thousand" count before opening his eyes again. Only he's not hallucinating, because the girl is still there, bloody with remnants from the poor dog's throat, and she's coming towards him.
Not good. Not good at all, and here my dear readers, is where the freakshow begins.
I was kind of shocked when I finished this book in less than a day. I felt like I just started the story, and just like that, with a snap of a finger, I was finished. I didn't want it to end, especially the way it did, because it left me craving more, and I might not be as lucky as Chase and his addict friends to receive another "hit" of this story. Finding a word to describe Fiend is actually pretty challenging. It was fast, funny, creepy, depressing . . . just everything rolled up in one. The was my first time reading a novel with an apocalypse as the concept, who I am kidding, it was my first time reading a novel about zombies . . . I think. My memory isn't my bestfriend these days, but I'm most certainly satisfied that Fiend was the first to pop my apocalyptic cherry.
That sounded a bit perverted . . .
Anywho, what I enjoyed the most about Fiend was the weird writing style. I wasn't expecting it, I haven't even read anything like it, and even though it was different, it didn't take long for me to get used to it. The first few pages were a bit difficult at first because there are no quotation marks. I'm talking, none whatsoever. So at first, I found myself saying, "Wait, here's the paragraph with his thoughts, and the description of things and such, and here's the dialogue, so where are the quotation marks?" I began to think, "Did the publisher send me an ARC? Surely this book has already been released." So I skim the book a little, and low and behold, there are indeed, no quotation marks. However, it didn't bother me as much as it did others. Literally after a couple of pages you'll start to adjust to the writing, and everything will start to flow. Trust me. Another reason I enjoyed the writing style, was because I felt it fit the character's personality. The writing gave off such a unstructured, scattered feel, and that's completely how the lives and thoughts of these characters actually were.
But what makes a good story? The plot? The characters? Let's cover those aspects next.
For you to love a book, you would have to love the plot right? Yea you can have amazing, relatable, funny, blah-blah-blah characters, but I feel as though a plot is the bones of a story. This is what sold me on Fiend. First of all, the concept is so original. As I mentioned before, this was my first apocalyptic experience, but to my defense, I still haven't heard of anything remotely close to this concept.
Imagine yourself as Chase, driving along familiar streets of your hometown and not seeing a soul. You're wondering where everyone is, and then BAM you're attacked, and forced to defend yourself. Everyone is dead. Turned to these creepy zombies who eat your flesh. You search for others who may still be alive, only to discover that the people who are still living through this epidemic, are meth addicts . . . just like you. Throw in the fact that the only way to not "turn" into one of the zombies or "chucks" as they called them, is to feed your already dependent habit of meth by continuously using. Smoking meth, snorting meth, shooting meth, becomes a desperate need of survival. Sprinkle in a twisted love story, then mix in a slew of delusional addicts, and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.
These delusional addicts I speak of, have to be the most crazed, but oddly interesting characters I've ever read. Chase has this weird, hero male protagonist thing going on. He was indeed the brains of the operation, and even though he screamed and cried alot, (I would too in that situation lol) he was brave and alot of times selfless. He made decisions throughout the book, one left me cringing, but he was always able to justify his wrongs. (Sometimes) Alot of his actions were solely based on the fact that he was an addict. Which made his character very sneaky, and a bit conniving, but on the otherhand, he was very sweet and caring.
This all sounds crazy right? lol.
" I'm telling myself that I'm a problem solver. I figure shit out. I make it happen. I'm thinking about being unemployed over the last two years. How I was able to keep a roof over my head. Able to smoke hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of dope a week. These are the marks of a problem solver. And maybe all of us drug addicts are? Give a motherf*!ker a carrot at the end of a string and we'll do whatever it takes to nibble on it's end. "
I truly enjoyed how well the secondary characters were written. They weren't just page fillers, but characters with actual stories of their own. Typerwriter a.k.a John, his bestfriend who lost his mother to cancer. KK, Chase's ex girlfriend who left him to chase sobriety. All of their problems becomes each others problems, and they learn to deal with addiction, survival, and the harsh realities of life. Together.
What I will say before I wrap this up, is that this book is not for everyone. You're literally in the head of a meth head. You're witnessing sick thoughts, that maybe a sober person wouldn't think. You're reading dialogue that has dry humor, things you wouldn't dare laugh at or even repeat, but you do . . . discreetly. Not everyone can get lost in this world that's been turned upside down, with these stupid addicts, and these stupid zombies that giggle! You might not even like the creepiness of the writing, or better yet, all the gore you read and imagine so vividly, but I did. I loved every minute of this story, and after reading Fiend, to answer the question I asked before,
"Can you survive a zombie apocalypse?"
My answer is . . . Hell No!