Rachel Aukes’ “100 Days in Deadland” is a zombie novel that stands above many of the rest in this popular genre—it’s not only fast-paced and well-written, but also intelligent. The novel is based on Dante’s “Inferno,” segmented into the nine circles of Hell and thirty-four chapters to reflect the 34 cantos in Dante’s epic poem. (If you’re not familiar with “Inferno,” the author’s note at the end will fill you in on the similarities—but be warned if you read that first you will risk spoilers!)
Mia Ryan is having an ordinary day at work until she’s attacked by her co-worker in the bathroom—and suddenly America is bursting into chaos as an infection rages across the country, turning countless people into zombies. Through luck alone, she is picked up by a hard-nosed trucker named Clutch, who nicknames her Cash and gives her one day to strike out on her own. His hard exterior belies a soft heart, though, and soon Cash and Clutch have forged a partnership to survive in the scary new world they find themselves in. Joined by a teenager named Jase, they face the worst the apocalypse has to offer, including not only the zombies but also a corrupt militia that represents the worst of humanity.
As a fan of horror novels, I’ve read quite a few zombie novels, and I can honestly say none have sucked me in quite like “100 Days in Deadland.” It has the suspense and the gore that’s expected and necessary in any zombie novel, but more than that it has characters you care about. As a reader, you become deeply invested in the struggles and survival of Clutch, Cash, and Jase; the author mixes action with a bit of romance, horror with a bit of realism in regard to how it would be to survive after humanity is decimated. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the zombie genre, I would recommend this to horror readers in general—the storyline (as based on Dante’s “Inferno”) is totally unique, and the characters are so memorable that this is one can’t miss read!