Sometimes I get skeptical when it comes to reviewing self published books. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone gets a big publishing deal, and the self-publishing route is a great way to go in order to keep the writer’s vision intact without having to compromise their artistic goals. Also, many people who are not writers do not understand how hard it is to handle the promotional side of the release when it is self-published ( a goal in itself).
However, sometimes when I am asked to look at an independent or self-published work, there are several things that may occur; horrendous editing where the author misspells words on a regular basis, bad cover art, or printing errors (I reviewed a book once where the same chapter was repeated twice right after each other). And then there are some times when the authors send me books where they know I am not going to like it, by the basis of not looking at my reviews on here (I am not going to read a book for two weeks that talks about how groundbreaking Rap is in the music world, especially since I HATE Rap). But there are surprises that come my way where I may not at first, think would be for me, but has some great qualities to the book.
The Death Doll by Brian P. White (2016) is one of those surprises. The story plot goes like this: The United States is in the midst of a zombie apocalypse that has been happening for years. A group of people who survived an attack in Iowa meet up with characters Didi and Cody, who invite them to escape into their commune (that is secretly hidden), protecting others who have evaded the attacks. Each member of the community has their own job to do in order to survive; from building, medical, or electrical jobs. Each person is to do their work to help out others, led by Cody and Didi, although there are rumblings among the people about the secrets of Didi’s past, along with tales about a mysterious person called the Death Doll, whose legendary status in taking out a group in Chicago has been rumored to be the new Boogieman. No one is sure which side the Doll is on in the war.
I have never been a fan of zombie movies , or the actual characters of them. Slow moving undead people isn’t scary for me (especially in films) where the characters could outrun these creatures. However, this author’s zombie characters have a unique twist to a few of them (NO Spoilers, sorry), which was one special quality to the book. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters, and is one of the driving forces of the plot. This is not a bunch of action where characters fight the undead on every page, in fact, although there is some action scenes in it, the character driven plots within the commune is what moves the story along. What is the real story about the Death Doll’s iconic status, why does everyone in the community follow the rules and regulations set by Cody and Didi when they have the freedom to leave, and what is behind the secrets between Cody and Didi’s pasts are all what drives the pages creating a mystery to the writing.
The chapters flow nicely, being relatively short (always a plus for me-I am not a fan of really long chapters unless they are truly needed). Again, the character development also makes the reader want to read multiple chapters, including the nice cliffhanger style at the end of many of the chapters. The book is sectioned off into three parts, with the first two parts around thirteen chapters each. The cover art by Angelique Shelley captures the flavor of the story, which reminded me of my brother’s Christian Science Fiction book , Cross of the Samurai (available at Amazon.com) , which I help edit in 2014.
The language in the book is geared to upper teens and adults; this is not for pre- teens, but it does not seemed to be marketed towards them anyway. Most pages has strong language, either by the characters or some of the references, however part of the characters’ language ends up being justified when a big reveal occurs towards the last half of the book. With the author creating a community style fortress, where citizens are hiding and surviving, many characters names are thrown out , to where it sometimes gets hard to keep track who is who at times. By the end of the book, only a few of the members are really relevant in my opinion, so when writing all the names down of people on my notebook to keep track was unnecessary by the end. For those that get involved when reading books character-wise, the end chapters may have readers feeling emotions for the actions that are being taken by the various characters (good and bad). I, for one, don’t get emotionally involved in fictional characters, but there is an intent by the author to entice sympathy and understanding for the reasons and actions among those in the writing.
The Death Doll ( a second book is already available) will appeal to fans that like Zombie novels with a twist added to the genre. The book is part action and mystery, with well written character driven stories, that has several swerves intertwined. I enjoyed the characters’ banter and conversations more than rooting for the humans to survive the undead attackers. For someone who is not a fan of zombies or end of the world style writing, I found something entertaining in the work, so fans of the genre would indeed find a liking within the pages, who are looking for something that is not mainstreamed and looking for a new twist.
This review copy was sent courtesy of the author.
The Death Doll by Brian P. White (Brian White P. White Publishing, 2016) can be found at Amazon.com in Kindle or paperback formats.
Geared For: 16 and up
For Fans Of: Zombies (with a twist) , action, apocalyptic stories, mysteries.