Friday, May 25, 2012

Writer's View: Fighting to Survive, by Rhiannon Frater


From Goodreads: Picking up where The First Days ends, Fighting to Survive features the further zombie-killing, civilization-saving adventures of a pair of sexy, kick butt heroines and the men who love them. A hundred or so survivors of the zombie plague have found tenuous safety in the walled off center of a small Texas town. Now the hard work of survival begins—finding enough food; creating safe, weather-resistant shelter; establishing laws; and fighting off both the undead who want to eat them and the living bandits who want to rob and kill them.

Fighting to Survive won the Dead Letter Award for Best Novel from Mail Order Zombie. The first book in the As the World Dies trilogy, The First Days also won the Dead Letter Award and was named one of the Best Zombie Books of the Decade by the Harrisburg Book Examiner. Tor Books began bringing this series to a wider audience with the Spring 2011 publication of The First Days.

The Writer's View

I love-love-love this book. This is definitely my favorite series I've read so far this year. I very often never finish series (mostly because I get distracted by something shiny and new--a series has to really WOW me to get me to finish it), but I could not wait to get my hands on the second installment of As The World Dies. The stakes are just as high as in the first novel, with more and more obstacles to overcome in this post-apocalyptic corner of Texas. We meet more loveable characters, some not-so-loveable characters, and get even more insight into characters we already love. The characters as so real, I feel like they are all very good friends.


Another interesting thing? Thanks to these books, I am a convert to zombie fandom. Yep, I now love the gross walking undead. I am now browsing my Nook for other zombie books. Anyone out there have any suggestions?

And now, onto my technical topic:

Maximizing multi-POV for maximum tension

Over the years, I've come to prefer single-POV in books, mostly because multi-POV books have a tendency to drag. I'm thinking particularly of my childhood favorite, Robert Jordan, who had SCORES of POVs in his books, and I was bored for large swathes of his books . . . clearly this was "back in the day" when I had the leisure of finishing books that didn't keep me hooked. But in general, it turned me off to multi-POV.

Despite that, I do believe multi-POV books have their place. If utilized well, the multi-POV can add dimension and increase tension in a novel. Fighting to Survive is a perfect example of this.

The thing I love about the multi-POV in this book is that none of it is filler; each scene, seen through the eyes of various characters, has a purpose. In general, as the reader moves from scene to scene, from character to character, the tension ratchets up. There is so much tension in this book that it's very nearly impossible to put down.

I'll share a concrete example. In the story, a small group of volunteers venture into a zombie-infested hotel with the hopes of killing all the zombies so the fort residents can have nicer living quarters. The fort is over-crowded with only one rickety shower in a janitor's closet. Many people sleep outside under tarps. Things are desperate. The hotel could be the perfect solution to the fort's crowded, dirty citizens. But the hotel is teeming with zombies.

As the volunteers attempt to win the hotel back from the zombies, Frater takes us through the POVs of a handful of characters. Most of the POVs belong to those battling their way through the hotel. There are also scenes from the POV of those outside the hotel, who are worried about the safety of loved ones fighting in the hotel. There are casualities, and we feel the impact to those both inside and outside of the hotel. The battle unfolds like a flower, each petal revealing some new facet of the battle. The tension flows off the page.

I'm tell you guys, these books are awesome. I hope some of you are adding them to your TBR lists!

9 comments:

  1. I have a couple of friends who are obsessed with this series. I don't know that it's the series for me, but you never know! I'm glad you enjoyed Fighting to Survive.

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    1. @ Andrea - it's a very easy series to get obsessed with, that's for sure! Hope you get a chance to check it out.

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  2. I'm not a huge fan of multi POV because, like you, I feel like it slows things down or you get going with one person's story and have to drop it to go to someone else. Drives me nuts!

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    1. @ Jenny - yeah, I totally agree! But I think when multi-POV is done right, it really rocks.

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  3. I'm with Jenny. Multiple POV books drive me crazy. Which is why I haven't read anything in the Game of Thrones series despite how much I adore the TV show. I find it really hard to empathise with characters so taking the action away from them limits my ability to care. Having said that, I did read an excerpt of The First Days and was pretty impressed by the writing.

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    1. @ Lan -- ooh, glad you read a little of First Days! Think you'll read the whole book?

      I haven't read Game of Thrones either. The books just look SOOOO long, I feel like I could read 3 books in the time it would take me to read one of them. I started watching the TV show, which is very well done, but some of the subject matter was a little dark for my taste. I stopped watching after they killed the innocent dog and killed the baker's boy who was sparring with the tomboy girl.

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    2. I think I will end up reading this series, If only to learn how to write a good zombie book. Game of Thrones is very confronting. I was shattered after my favourite character died but I think I'll still watch it until too many people I like die!

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  4. I suppose, if done right, multiple POV books would be fine, but I'm not sure I've read any. Usually, what I read are books with the head-hopping multiple POV thing, which I think is a problem, even if not everyone does. Drives me nuts because I need a clean transition from one person's head to the next. But, like I said, if it's done more like how a comic book does it, or a film, I might be okay with it.

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    1. @ Cathy - Yeah, the head-hopping thing bugs me, too. The only time it works is when the writer uses omniscent, but that is very difficult to pull off. Neil Gaiman is brilliant at it. Have you read any of his stuff?

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