“I want to show you the New World Corraalllll!” -Rick Grimes, probably talking about books or something.
Busy Geek Breakdown (TL;DR):
Since things opened back up I have made a concerted effort to check out the many small local bookshops and ask for recommendations. I tend to get into a pattern of reading one genre for a month or so until I can’t stand it anymore, then switch, but I’ll eventually reevaluate. So here are the five books I took home for survival horror. I have mixed feelings on most of these, but I recommend you check them out for yourself anyway (unless you can’t stand survival horror, then probably don’t.)
***So many Spoiler below……. but read it anyway!!!****
***Also, Content Warnings …. Seriously. So, so many content warnings. Most of these books are intense. I read them basically back to back to back, and now I am taking a long break. (CW: Guns, Knives, Pandemics, Graphic violence, Fascism, gore, disturbing imagery, psychological horror, strong language, dark themes, intense atmosphere, depictions of disturbing behavior, racism, transphobia, homophobia, Sexual Assault, drug use, cannibalism, and instances of animals dying)***
The best way I can describe the experience of this book is a fast paced and gritty journey through Post-Apocalyptic Chaos, Queer Themes, and Unrelenting violence and a gore that you just can’t put down.
So here we go:
Listen up, folks! “Manhunt” by Gretchen Felker-Martin ain’t your typical post-apocalyptic tale. This book takes a swing at our messed-up world and shows how the toxic crap we sling in our everyday lives sticks around even when the whole damn system goes to hell. It’s a raw exploration of the human mind when the world’s gone to shit.
Now, Felker-Martin ain’t interested in giving you a breakdown of every little detail in this chaotic world. Sure, most of the communities got their own strict rules, but there’s still time for characters to kick back, smoke some blunts, and get all horny talking about their messed-up situation. While this gives room for some deep symbolic and thematic moments, the world itself could be built up a bit more. I know I’m a nerd, but I was left with a lot of questions … although not for too long because the book hardly let me catch my breath to ask further. Honestly, a lot of these questions started popping up once I finished.
The real threat in this book comes from the author’s gritty, sexually violent portrayal of zombified men. They’re like a damn nightmare unleashed on the pages, embodying what Felker-Martin calls “filth core” – a style that hits you right in the gut. Martin’s writing hits its peak in describing the messed-up bodies and violence of those poor suckers infected with the T-virus (and no, not like in Resident Evil, T as in targets testosterone). It’s like the darkness and brutality seep into your bones.
This story ain’t just about survival, though. It’s a backdrop for a deep dive into terfism as a form of fascism. Teach, the leader of the terf militia, is a tough nut to crack, but when she lets loose, Martin’s writing cuts sharp, revealing the complex emotions and traumas that push people towards such messed-up ideologies.
Now, the book could’ve used a tighter crew. Characters like Fran, Indi, and Robbie ain’t as fleshed out as Beth and Ramona. I loved the bond between Fran and Beth at the start, but as they get pulled apart, their connection starts feeling a bit arbitrary. It gets hard to find that emotional center, you know?
The gendered conflicts these characters face are real and in-your-face. They gotta hunt down zombies and chow down on balls to get estrogen and survive. And the virus messes with their transitions, leaving ’em stuck in a body that’s dehumanized by their own damn community. It’s a messed-up world, no doubt. Martin’s filthy, grimy prose style captures it all. It ain’t the most messed-up book I’ve ever seen, but there are moments that’ll stop you in your tracks.
This book ain’t holding back when it comes to trans women, cis women, terfs, men, sexism, fatness, or the unfairness of life. But all that brutality serves a purpose – it develops some deeply wounded characters. Ain’t nobody in this world without deep shame and anger. The trans protagonists look at their bodies and identities with unfiltered cruelty that hits hard. Now, this might be cathartic for some trans readers, but for others, it could be damn triggering. And let’s not forget the splatter gore – it’s a whole ‘nother level of nastiness.
“Manhunt” ain’t gonna be everyone’s cup of tea. It swings wildly from brutal violence to dark humor, from heart-wrenching reflection to awkward moments, and right back to violence again. But if you’re up for the challenge and can stomach the intensity, it’s a damn interesting read. It’s a gritty exploration of post-apocalyptic chaos, queer themes, and a filthy aesthetic that sets it apart from your typical survival horror books.
Side note, the only thing that ever really gave me pause was the description of the reconstructed Destroyer that the terfs get ahold of near the end. The description might be based off some WWII ships, or perhaps info files on what weapons can possibly be carried on a modern ship? But those are possibilities, that much fire power won’t fit on such a small ship, the buoyancy and metastatic center would be all off risking it capsizing, assuming the hull could take the stress, and there are other issues, but honestly, I loved the movie Battleship so in the end I had to tell my brain to shut up and just enjoy the ride.
And there was of course, some controversy, not just because the author dared to be trans and write very human trans characters, but because in her post-apocalyptic world J.K. Rowling dies terribly. I feel like she has enough money that she can buy the world’s smallest violin and hire someone to follow her around, but that’s just me.
All in all, “Manhunt” claws at your soul and leaves a mark. It’s a wild ride that takes no prisoners, and it’s not afraid to get in your face. So, if you’re ready to embrace the filth, dive right in. Just be prepared for the raw, unrelenting journey that awaits you.
4. Fantastic Land
Listen up, folks. I got a story to tell ya. It’s about this book called Fantasticland. Now, let me warn ya right off the bat, this ain’t no walk in the park (see what I did there? Eh?). It’s violent, creepy, and it’ll send shivers down your spine. I wouldn’t call this a thriller, although it does manage to build suspense even though you know some of the worst stuff is coming right from the first page. It basically avoids sex entirely, and there’s even several comments about how you would think a bunch of bored teens would be constantly boning, but apparently ain’t nobody got time for that when they’re busy killin’ each other left and right. That or everyone is collectively forgetting parts and/or lying, which I suppose is possible. Anyway, gender and sexuality, they don’t really come up. Missed opportunity if you ask me. So, it’s all about survival and the primal instinct kickin’ in.
Now, this book takes place in Florida, of all places. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse down there, with Ron “pudding fingers” Desantis runnin’ the show, we got a hurricane wreakin’ havoc on an amusement park, and unsurprisingly, the corporation in charge has not properly trained their people for emergencies, and values the potential for looted merch over their people. Talk about bad luck. But let me tell ya, it’s the Florida Man that makes this whole story remotely believable. That state’s got a reputation for some wild and crazy stuff, and Fantasticland fits right in.
The book’s told in a series of interviews, like we’re gatherin’ evidence to piece together the horrifying events that unfolded. You got heads on spikes, corpses floatin’ in detention cells, people being blown apart by actual pirate cannons (just how high would the liability insurance have to be in a place to have real swords and real cannons for the actors???) and enough blood to make your stomach turn. It’s like a twisted version of Lord of the Flies, told a lot like World War Z only with more rides and a hell of a lot more gore.
The author, Mike Bockoven, ain’t holdin’ back. He’s paintin’ a vivid picture of this nightmare, makin’ it feel all too real. You’ll be glued to the pages, gripped by the darkness unfoldin’ before your eyes. It’s a thrill ride of the macabre, I tell ya.
I gotta admit, this book ain’t for the faint of heart. It’s a dark journey into the depths of human depravity. But if you’re a fan of horror, if you can handle the gruesome and the twisted, then Fantasticland is a must-read. It’ll leave you unsettled, it’ll make you question the fragility of society, and it’ll remind you just how messed up things can get when all hell breaks loose.
So buckle up, my friends. Get ready for a wild ride through the twisted corridors of Fantasticland. It’s a violent, creepy, and downright disturbing tale. But hey, it’s Florida we’re talkin’ about. Anything’s possible down there, especially when Florida Man’s involved.
3. The Last She
This book was a gripping, if sometimes problematic tale of survival, identity, and love in a Post-Apocalyptic World.
Listen up, folks! I’ve come across a story that’ll grab you by the guts and never let go. “The Last She” is a thrilling post-apocalyptic adventure that delves into the depths of survival, identity, and the complexities of human nature. In this harrowing tale, we follow the courageous protagonist Lana as she navigates a world devoid of hope and confronts the challenges of self-discovery.
“The Last She” excels in its ability to create a vivid and dangerous post-apocalyptic world, where the survival of tribes is constantly threatened by the menacing horde. The author paints a stark and unforgiving picture of this reality, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. However, there are some gaps and issues that merit acknowledgement.
While the book does explore relationships and love, its very heteronormative and definitely falls short in depicting or even really hinting at man-on-man romance or even sex. This omission leaves a gap in the representation of diverse queer experiences within the narrative. Additionally, the book does not adequately acknowledge the existence and experiences of trans individuals in this post-apocalyptic world. This lack of representation is a missed opportunity to explore the complexities of gender identity and the potential impact of the sickness on trans men.
The nature of the sickness itself, with its focus on women (frequently referred to by folks as ‘females’ ugh) dying first and fastest, leaves some ambiguity about how trans people would be affected. The book could have delved deeper into the nuances of gender and the diverse ways in which individuals navigate their identities in this devastated world. By providing a more inclusive perspective, “The Last She” could have further enriched its exploration of queer themes and added depth to the narrative.
One of the most chilling aspects of “The Last She” is the presence of the horde (basically a roving band of ‘Alpha Males’, who’s entrance is literally paid with a fight to the death (not sure about recruiting or retention strategy but apparently the math checks out)– the horde presents a relentless, relentless force that looms over the tribes surviving in this desolate world, and the leader has a very Negan vibe. The author paints a vivid and terrifying picture of the horde, emphasizing the constant danger and desperation that the tribes face. It’s a stark reminder of the ever-present threat lurking just beyond their fragile existence.
In this desperate struggle for survival, the tribes without women must find alternative ways to meet their primal urges. While not shying away from the harsh realities of human nature, this is primarily filled with violence and destruction. It’s a raw and unflinching exploration of the lengths people will go to satisfy their desires in the absence of conventional means. This portrayal adds a gritty layer of realism to the narrative, highlighting the complex moral dilemmas faced by the characters.
Despite these gaps, “The Last She” remains a captivating read that immerses readers in a post-apocalyptic landscape teeming with danger and uncertainty. It delves into the depths of human nature, challenging notions of identity, and exploring the bonds that hold us together. Lana’s journey serves as a beacon of hope in this bleak world, inspiring those around her to find strength amidst the chaos.
“The Last She” is an intense exploration of survival instincts, the human spirit, and the unyielding quest for meaning in a world turned upside down. While it could have addressed certain gaps and issues more directly, it still offers a gripping narrative that delves into survival, identity, and the intricacies of human relationships.
So, gear up and prepare yourself for a journey through a world on the brink of collapse. Brace yourself for a gripping adventure that will leave you questioning the very essence of humanity, while keeping in mind the gaps and missed opportunities in the representation of diverse queer experiences.
*Update* While writing this review, I found out that there is a sequel called “The Last City”. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m adding that to my list of ‘to read’ once I loop back around to Post Apocalyptic tales.
2. Burn Down, Rise Up
This book was a Sapphic Love story with a best friend Monster Hunting adventure in a nightmare world inspired by real world events – (which I didn’t read about until after I read this book unfortunately – much like I didn’t know about the Tulsa Massacre until after I saw Love Craft Country …. I know, I know, Indiana Public Schools should be ashamed) the author, a non-binary Afro-Latine Bronx native, is a Horror Power House. So here we go …
Listen up, folks! “Burn Down, Rise Up” ain’t your ordinary horror tale. This book takes you on a twisted journey through the dark corners of the Bronx, where disappearances are swept under the rug, and the monsters lurking in the shadows aren’t always what they seem. But what sets this story apart is how it shines a light on the strength of the LGBT and BIPOC community.
From the very start, you’re thrown into the chaos alongside Raquel, a brave young girl who’s determined to uncover the truth. As her crush Charlize’s cousin vanishes, Raquel can no longer ignore the eerie happenings around her. Joined by Charlize, these two fierce young ladies team up to face the unimaginable, while challenging the biases and prejudices that permeate their community.
The writing style is spot-on, immersing you in the dark underbelly of the Bronx without holding back. The author’s ability to conjure spine-chilling horror imagery and keep you on the edge of your seat is commendable. But what truly makes this book special is how it weaves the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ and BIPOC experience into its very fabric.
In the heart of the Bronx, “Burn Down, Rise Up” introduces us to Raquel, a courageous teenager navigating a world where the disappearance of certain lives goes unnoticed. When Charlize’s cousin goes missing, Raquel is compelled to take action. Together, these two young women embark on a perilous quest to uncover the truth behind the terrifying Echo Game, an urban legend that traps people in a sinister underworld.
As Raquel and Charlize face their own fears and confront the horrors lurking beneath the surface, the book delves into the experiences of the LGBT and BIPOC community in the Bronx. Through their resilience and determination, they challenge the biases and injustices that society imposes upon them.
Vincent Tirado’s writing style hooks you from the very beginning, painting a vivid picture of the Bronx’s dark history and the struggles faced by its diverse inhabitants. The narrative effortlessly blends heart-pounding horror with the indomitable spirit of the LGBT and BIPOC community, offering a fresh perspective on the genre.
“Burn Down, Rise Up” is a gripping horror novel that goes beyond the supernatural, capturing the strength and resilience of LGBT and BIPOC individuals. With its compelling characters, atmospheric storytelling, and a focus on marginalized communities, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat while shedding light on the challenges faced by those often overlooked. So buckle up, because this is one wild ride you won’t want to miss.
Ps. I will now think twice about riding the subway at night …
1. All That’s Left in The World
The best way I can describe this book is to quote the author himself, “I wrote this. So I think it’s definitely top five best books of all time about queer kids surviving the apocalypse. I also think you’d agree so give it a read!”
Y’know, in a world gone to hell, where the dead are walkin’ and chaos reigns supreme, you’d think there wouldn’t be time for love. But hold onto your hats, folks, ’cause “All That’s Left in the World” shatters those expectations like a bullet through a walker’s brain.
This post-apocalyptic tale takes us on a wild ride through a world ravaged by a super-bug that wiped out most of humanity. But in the midst of the turmoil, two survivors emerge: Andrew and Jamie. Now, these boys ain’t just fightin’ for survival; they’re discoverin’ a love that’ll light up the darkness and warm even the coldest nights.
If you thought the end of the world couldn’t get any gayer, “All That’s Left in the World” is here to prove you wrong. This book ain’t just a post-apocalyptic adventure; it’s a damn celebration of LGBT themes in the face of the undead.
From the get-go, you can tell this book means business. The writing grabs ya like a hungry walker sinking its teeth into fresh meat. The humor, action, and suspense blend together like the perfect recipe for survival. Erik J. Brown, the author, knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat while sprinklin’ in moments of tender love that’ll warm your heart, even in the darkest of times.
Now, let’s talk about our heroes, Andrew and Jamie. These boys ain’t your typical survivors. They’re beautifully flawed, guilt-ridden, and dang funny. They meet in a world where hope’s in short supply, but they find solace in each other’s arms. It’s a slow burn romance, but trust me, folks, it’s worth the wait. Their chemistry is hotter than a wildfire and sweeter than a can of peaches in a deserted pantry.
What sets this book apart is how effortlessly it weaves queer representation into the fabric of a zombie-ridden world. It’s like watchin’ “The Walking Dead,” but with a helluva lot more rainbows and heartwarming moments. Y’know, if King Ezekiel and Daryl Dixon decided to ride off into the sunset hand in hand, kickin’ undead butt along the way. (Hey Netflix, I have a pitch for you …)
So, my friends, if you’re lookin’ for an adventure that’ll keep you up all night, “All That’s Left in the World” is your ticket. It’s got everything you need: bickering, initially friendly seeming midwestern fascists, real talk, sarcastic banter, and a whole lot of love.
But seriously, folks, this book ain’t just about the end of the world; it’s about love and resilience in the face of unimaginable challenges. So grab your crossbow, lock and load, and join Andrew and Jamie on their journey through a post-apocalyptic landscape where love conquers all—even when the world has turned to hell.