Aftertime, Zombie Apocalypse Chick Lit

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The world is gone. Worse, so is her daughter. Awakening in a bleak landscape as a scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many weeks have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.

As zombie apocalypse novels go, Sophie Littlefield’s Aftertime is certainly not typical. The world is barren. Chemical warfare has stripped the land of most of its natural resources. In the stead of beautiful, natural life are dead zombie-like, flesh-eating creatures called Beaters. But the story really isn’t about this world or the terrifying creatures within it – that is merely the setting for the real story. Aftertime is a character-centric book focusing on Cass Dollar as she struggles through her personal demons on her quest to find her daughter.

Cass is a recovering addict of practically everything: alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. Cass’s past and her struggle with addiction is a constant topic that the author continually reminds the reader about. At first I was a little put off. I kept thinking, “I get it. She struggled with this a lot. Why does she have to keep mentioning it?” But the more I thought about it the more I realized that it was constantly being mentioned because it is something that Cass, as a recovering addict, would have on her mind every day. We didn’t get a break from it because she didn’t get a break from it. Something always reminded her of her struggle to not pick up that bottle, or that joint, or beat herself up over having made so many wrong decisions.

Cass had already lost her daughter, Ruthie, once. She lost her to child services who put the girl into the hands of Cass’s mother and sexually abusive stepfather. Cass had just pulled her life together enough to warrant the return of her child when the world fell apart. They took refuge in an old library with other survivors. But the Beaters attacked and Cass was taken. She should not have survived – yet she did.

Cass has very little memory of what actually happened. But she finds herself wandering through a zombie-infested world; her body is torn apart and her hair is in clumped fragments where it has been pulled from her head. She has a very keen suspicion as to what happened. But it doesn’t matter how she survived. All that mattered was Ruthie. During her quest she meets up with Smoke. He is tall, strong, and mysterious. He protects her for no apparent reason, making her quest his own.

Aftertime is one on Luna book’s, a subset of Harlequin’s, newer titles, released on February 22. In typical Harlequin fashion there is a significant sub-plot romance and scenes of intimacy. The nice thing about Luna titles, though, is that while the romance and the sex are certainly part of the story, they are not an overwhelming part. Unlike so many other types of romance books, the plot is not solely based on kinky scenes that make you blush and a plot so bad that it should make the author blush. Luna books work the romance into well-laid story lines like this one. Basically it’s zombie apocalypse chick-lit, going easy on the “chick” element.

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