by Annie Walls
With the help of her new companions, the path Kansas follows leads to more knowledge of the ever adapting famished. The team finds help in unlikely places, meeting more survivors, and discovers the possibility of a new beginning. When the team experiences a devastating loss, Kansas struggles to keep her humanity from fading and distorting like that of the surviving society around her. It begins with knowing who to trust and who to leave behind. First, she must trust herself – she won't make the same mistakes twice. As the answers to her questions are revealed, Kansas begins to understand the knowledge comes with a heavy price and great responsibility of controlling the dead. In a trilogy plot thick with twists and turns, this adult dark fantasy is as emotional as it is horrifyingly gripping.
Last year Annie Walls blew me away with her post-apocalyptic zombie tale Taking on the Dead. The first in the Famished Trilogy it earned a top spot on my Adult Top-Ten Reads for 2013. As you can imagine, I was drooling in anticipation of Controlling the Dead. My friends, it was well worth the wait. Walls has created a fascinating world with characters that have become family. We see story advancement and character development as Walls holds are emotions captive. Mini review: engaging, action-packed and heart-wrenching.
This review is spoiler free for those who have read Taking on the Dead. The tale jumps straight back into the story, and it took me a while to acclimate myself. It really needed a recap and I actually went back and read the last few chapters of book one and my own review after reading the first few pages of Controlling the Dead. I do not recommend reading this series out of order.
The tale picks up with Kansas pretty damaged after the events that transpired in book one. She is withdrawn; constantly moving, and planning. The rest of our merry team is worried about her. The team is working to uncover answers, and still planning to save more lives from the compounds. The tale that unfolds was action-packed, with character and plot development. Walls pulled me in and held me till the end.
Kansas “Kan” is a complicated, kick-ass character who has endured more crap in her lifetime then any soul should have to bear. She is driven, unmerciful at times and so compassionate at others that your heart bleeds for her. Mac and Rudy are her love interests, and I feared this little triangle would continue. Mac and Rudy are best friends, and it’s clear they respect and admire each other making things more complicated. Despite how messed up she is, it is clear where her heart lies. Thankfully she lets them know and we could all move forward. Rudy is complex, caring and damaged himself. Max is sweet, and dangerous and dependable. One of the things I adored about the romance is that Walls allowed it to build slowly from friendship, trust and respect. We felt the sexual tension, and experienced the dance as we saw their feelings emerge from their actions and little nuances. The cast of secondary characters are a motley crew, and Walls took the time to develop them. She gave them each a unique voice and made them an integral part of the tale. The results paid off, as I found myself attached to all of them. I suffered, shared in their joy and fears and had my heart ripped open and left to bleed when we suffered lost. She gave us characters to loathe and also introduced us to some new characters. Mago a voodoo man and his gifted daughter intrigued me.
Controlling the Dead offers a solid, action packed middle book that kept me on edge, and left me drooling for the final book of this trilogy. We had intense scenes, zombie mayhem, and even an interesting twist regarding Kan and the walking dead. There is conflict; secrets are revealed, and some questions are finally answered. She weaves in more aspects of the world, increasing the suspense. The closer we got to answers, the more questions arise. *Gah, it was nail-biting* The story twists and turns with moments of elation and devastation. Walls doesn’t hold back, and no one is safe as she rips us apart with climatic scenes and unexpected twists. She balances the dark and the light, the bloody gore and the laughter keeping the reader completely enthralled. This book is more than a zombie apocalyptic world, the characters breathe life into it making it an epic tale of survival. The ending gives us hope and leaves us screaming for more.
Fans of the character driven, post-apocalyptic worlds need to read the Famished Trilogy. Those who loved Taking on the Dead, need to grab their copy of Controlling the Dead stat, you will not be disappointed. The final book Living with the Dead does not have an expected release date at the time of this review. *Annie Walls don’t make me wait. That is all.*
Four and half cups of coffee out of five
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