Author: Tom Leveen
Release Date: October 1, 2013
by, Harry N Abrams
*An ARC was provided for review purposes*
I...really liked this book. Yes, I found it surprising and I really shouldn't have doubted it. Though, I'd have to admit it wasn't until around the 80th page it really hooked me and I feel that's why I ended up being surprised I liked it. At the beginning I found while the banter was realistic for high school kids, there were just a few things I found off. At first, the main character, Brian, came off a little girlish in his dialogue. I had to back track and see if it was a girl or guy author and to my surprise it was a male author. I also knew that this was a zombie book so I knew gore should be soon. I had no problem with the lead up to all the action. In fact, I found it was really well foreshadowed without being too cliche. Obviously I knew what was coming because of the synopsis stating it was "Breakfast Club meets Walking Dead" (both of which I love and peaked my interest) but I wasn't rolling my eyes at its leading up to the zombie surprise.
Anyways, sorry. Got a little off track. I knew it was a zombie book so I figured there'd be a lot of gore and death and yeah, of course there was. My problem in the beginning with it being a zombie book was that there wasn't a realistic reaction from Brian once shiz started going down. I mean come on, when you start seeing "melting" humans with jaundice eyes, running after kids and ripping throats out...would you not be initially shitting yourself? If you started seeing your friends/classmates die left and right would you not be feeling scared and sad? Even hella confused and just well, scared? Yeah, you would think. But initially I did not feel this from Brian. In fact, I felt a bit of nothing from him. Sure, it was mentioned he was worried about his friends, his sister and his ex girlfriend but...it was more descriptive than it was emotional. Then he became very sarcastic about it and I was like "okay, well this I can deal with. A sarcastic/parody take on the zombies where its not necessarily meant to be taken serious is cool with me! I can dig it. It would lighten the mood on a very scary topic and make it fun and enjoyable!" I also wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe this is a normal reaction: delusional and then denial but, it didn't quite give me that feel. Though again this was literally only the first 50-80ish pages.
I have so many props coming.
I have only read two other zombie books in the past and neither of them were the gory zombie lore most commonly known to man. So, I can't say I've every been a huge fan of zombie books but I also can't say that I ever hated them either. I can say that I really enjoyed Leveen's take on the zombie topic. Again, haven't read a lot of zombie books so I'm not knowledged on what is right/wrong or what is correct lore or not but I found Leveen took a stance that for those who haven't read a lot of zombie books, they would understand. I was completely convinced that this seemed completely possible. It was scientific and therefore realistic to me which just allowed me to dig into the book in more force. See, I've also seen The Walking Dead TV show and to me, the zombie lore is not as realistic but still enjoyable--people die and because of a disease they come back to life. Yet, you see in Sick there is a sickness that causes the body to start morphing/decay. Yeah, same thing as always but no! So, the flesh eating is kept to a minimum its basically a means to an end. See, Leveen got scientific (to my knowledge, didn't necessarily research it) and explained that bone marrow is used to fight off diseases...therefore! These "zombies" were really just after the bones--in so much pain and diluted to basic instincts in order to help heal themselves that they were essentially trying to cure themselves. Loved it. Made sense to be and I ran with it!
Now, the characters, I pretty much immediately loved. Brian, gosh sometimes its so nice getting a guy's POV as it seems they are so freaking rare! (Leave a comment below on books with male POVs if you have them. Would love to explore more!) Yes, at first he was off to me but I became more comfortable with him over time and really just enjoyed the character--sarcasm and all--for what he was made to be and transformed into. He's a normal guy with a will to live and take care of those he loves. The characters that were later introduced I enjoyed as well. Trying to survive a zombie apocalypse will do many things to a person and I feel Leveen captured the transformations of different personalities extremely well. Also, have to give props to him consistently (without being annoying) commenting on each characters appearance. I feel too often a characters appearance will be touched on in the beginning and then waaayyy later be commented on and I will be lost, have to go back and find the original description and then feel like an idiot. It's small but important in my eyes and thank you, Leveen for this.
Sick was full of enough obstacles and detail description to keep the reader interested. Yeah, theres lots of gore. It was well described and often enough for an appropriate zombie book. The sounds, smells, blood and aftermath were all included. I enjoyed this new strain of zombies, again much more realistic than the common "undead" which I feel makes Leveen's book stand out amongst the others. Honestly, Leveen kills it. This book is a standalone. Yeah! There is no sequel. There is no series! Again, rare! Unless its a contemporary novel, chances are its a series. Trust me, I love my series as much as the next guy and honestly I understand why non contemporaries are sequels more often than not. It's hard to contain so much in one little book without the ending being hated on for feeling "incomplete". I will say, Leveen does an excellent job on ending this book with enough heartbreak deaths and hope to make a reader content. I don't know why this book doesn't get more hype. I don't understand why Leveen isn't acknowledged more than he is. Did you know he isn't even an official Goodreads author? After completing this book I clicked on his author name on Goodreads and found this out and was shocked! (I also found out he has a love for stand-alones which explains this book.) I highly suggest you check this one out. Sick has everything you want in a zombie book--heartlessness, gore, and a fast paced rhythm that has you turning each page, stressing out a little with the characters themselves. Well done!