ZA: And the Dead Shall Rise by ID Locke

ZA: And the Dead Shall Rise by ID Locke
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (350 pgs)
Other: M/M, BDSM, Anal Sex
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Tracey Hedgewood has planned for years with other ZA survivalists what to do in the very unlikely instance of the dead walking. He is the man with a plan now that the ZA has become a frightening reality of the world. Guy Thibaudeau has managed to survive the first week of the ZA through sheer luck and knows that he needs a plan, and soon, if he wants to stay off the zombie menu. Tracey and Guy meet while both foraging in the same store for supplies. Casual and flirty acquaintances for six months before the dead rose to snack on the living, they decide to team up to increase their survival chances as well as see where the strong mutual attraction will lead.

As the men make their way to what they hope is safety following The Plan Tracey has been refining for years, Tracey’s every-man-for-himself Plan slowly morphs into a scheme to make their safe haven on the Toronto Islands a zombie-free zone for themselves as well as the people still living there. While guiding their new group into making their location safe for everyone, the men explore their mutual desires and kinks, finding that they not only work well as a zombie killing team but as lovers, too. Tracey and Guy soon discover that even in the horror of the dead hunting the living, incredible good can come from a hopelessly bad situation.

The end of the world has never seemed so hopeful. Tracey is a survivalist and has been planning for the zombie apocalypse for years. Though he never knew when he would need his knowledge, or if he ever would, he knew he’d be able to survive. Now that zombies have descended upon Toronto, and perhaps the world, Tracey ends up joining forces with his long time crush, Guy. Together the two pool their resources to find a safe place to live their new life. Along the way they discover their mutual attraction and kinks make them perfect partners.

ZA: And the Dead Shall Rise is the sequel to another ZA book but easily can be read on its own. I haven’t read the other book but this one focuses on Guy and Tracey almost exclusively so readers won’t be lost or confused. The story is decent with the expected harrowing circumstances: zombies overrunning the city, needing supplies, encountering other survivors, the quest for safety of some sort in the new world. At the same time the relationship between Guy and Tracey advances quickly, as one might expect, from hot sex to something deeply emotional as well. I found the story rather uneven with action in fits and starts. Sometimes it would go so fast I felt as if I was speed reading but other times the action would slow down considerably with lengthy conversations that seem redundant or unnecessary. I found my attention sharpening or waning depending on the pace of the story, which often would pull me out of the enjoyment of the book.

Guy and Tracey are enjoyable characters with depth but they lack subtly and nuance. They’re both exceptionally well suited, too well suited, to the apocalypse with multiple necessary skills that will ensure their survival over almost anyone else. They seemed a little too perfect sometimes and I was confused by the progress of their relationship. While it made sense and I enjoyed watching the two move from hot and seriously kinky sex to companionship between long time lovers that still have hot and kinky sex, sometimes I was baffled by their lengthy conversations. They would ask each other inane questions such as favorite color or movie in an effect to get know each other better but from my perspective those answers no longer matter when the world as you know it ends. It’s not as if the daily minutiae of life affects compatibility when survival is the most important factor and likely will be for the foreseeable future. Instead of caring what kind of music the other person likes, I’d be more interested in whether we could work together, and withstand each other’s personalities, to ensure we stayed alive and zombie free with sex as an added bonus.

The story has some really enjoyable moments but it ends up being this odd mix of normal relationship progression from attraction to sex to emotions to commitment and love and a race for survival in a new world order. To me it always felt as if they were from two separate stories instead of one cohesive book. I think this will likely work best for readers who liked the other book in the series.

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