22 July 2013

Review: Survivors by Z.A. Recht with Thom Brennan

Survivors (Morningstar Strain #3) by Z.A. Recht with Thom Brennan

Published: 19 June 2012 by Permuted Press

Pages: 320 (paperback)

Genre/s: Zombie, Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Own library

As the third book in the series, this review may contain spoilers for the first two books.


In the wake of the zombie apocalypse, two separate bands of survivors journey across a decimated America, each with the desperate goal of finding the cure for the virulent plague that threatens the existence of humankind—or what’s left of it. Now it’s up to these inheritors of the future to outlive their waking nightmare, any way they can.


One group includes a brilliant virologist; for the other, an immune soldier proves invaluable. Battling infected and marauding raiders at every turn, the teams soon uncover the devious plans of Sawyer, an agent of the Chairman of the Reunited States of America, who believes that Dr. Anna Demilio already has the cure, and he will stop at nothing to find her. Now, with the salvation of the world and their own souls on the line, how far will the survivors go to emerge victorious?

My Thoughts

The final book in the Morningstar Strain series has a sad story behind it.  Author Z.A. Recht tragically passed away in December 2009 at the age of 26, eighteen months after the publication of book #2, and before Survivors was finished.  More than two and a half years later, Survivors was finally published after being completed by Thom Brennan, although how much was written by Recht and how much by Brennan is something only Permuted Press and Thom Brennan himself know.  It took me nearly another year before I could pick up Survivors, because the Morningstar Strain series was the zombie series that really got me addicted to our undead friends, and as well as being sad to see the series end, I was pretty wary of this book.

If, like me, you are tentative about finishing this series, I personally recommend reading the other books again if it's been a long time since you read them.  Time has a way of changing our memories of books, and I probably would have been disappointed with Survivors if I hadn't read Plague of the Dead and Thunder and Ashes again right beforehand.

Both the first books in the series have multiple perspectives, but Survivors goes one further and includes one more group that haven't really been sighted since the beginning of Thunder and Ashes.  Unlike many multiple-perspective books I read, this one didn't have me reading quickly through perspectives I cared less about to get to the 'good stuff' - all the perspectives were relevant, interesting and added an extra level to the story.

Part way through I was thinking that the character development was a little bit lacking, but it definitely picks up in the second half as the psychology of survival and guilt starts to come into play with some of the original characters and it begins to affect how they function both negatively and positively.

The big question is whether I could tell the difference between the writing of Z.A. Recht and Thom Brennan.  To be perfectly honest, even with reading Thunder and Ashes immediately before starting Survivors, I couldn't really discern a difference.  Survivors is certainly paced on the same level as the first two books, and although it felt more 'military ops', that feeling was also there in Thunder and Ashes in particular.

Whether it was the intention of Recht or a product of the writing of Brennan, one thing that I always appreciate (enjoy is the wrong word) is a writer who isn't scared of killing off characters that you think are going to make it through - it makes the story more realistic and intense, even if it's emotionally shocking and there were a couple of them that I wanted to make it through that didn't.

And the ending?  Whilst I didn't want the book to end, I found the ending to be rather fitting although for some readers it may be a little bit more open-ended than satisfying.  I'm sad to say goodbye to this series, but I am glad I read the final book.


  1. I've been anxiously awaiting your thoughts on this book for quite some time. Unfortunately, I was one of the few who was left relatively unsatisfied with the conclusion. Knowing what I did going into it (about Recht's passing), I expected that there might be some differences in both voice and style, however, for me, it felt like a lot of my favourite characters were SO drastically different than in previous books. I mean, I barely recognised some of them. And while you bring out a good point (that their experiences can radically change them), some of it didn't fit quite right for me. Also, the ending. Ugh. While I, too, can appreciate main character deaths, the ending was just too much all at once. Not what I anticipated or wanted, really.

    So I read this book immediately after it was released and I'm thinking that maybe I just hyped it up so much in my own mind that I sort of doomed it from the start. I dunno. I may have to go back and re-read it. Perhaps a re-evaluation is in order?

  2. I am afraid to read this one. I guess my husband is too since I keep reminding him that it's sitting there on the shelf lol

    I'm glad to hear that for the most part it worked for you and there wasn't a noticeable difference in style.

    I guess it's like when Joss Whedon left BtVS. I could tell it wasn't him writing but it still had his humor and vision lol

  3. Oh wow what a story is behind this one. It's good that you couldn't tell the difference between the two authors, when I read that mention at the beginning I thought for sure this was going to end badly. Happy that the series still managed to finish off on a high note for you!

  4. I still haven't read this. I guess I'm just scared it will be disappointing. Glad to see you liked it though.

  5. Yeah for more zombie books! I hadn't heard of this series. So sad about the author! It always makes me sad to hear an author can't even be here to see their book (or series end in this instance) being published. But it's great that Brennan was able to take this on and do it justice, though. I'm actually impressed that it wasn't much different in terms of writing style. Anyways, gad it was a great final installment I'll have to keep a lookout for the first in this series!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...