Murphy’s Law, the sequel to Dulaney’s first book in the Roads Less Traveled trilogy, “The Plan” takes place after the winter at the end of the first year the world had to come to grips with Z-Day. The survivors of the first book are prepared to set out on their quest to find the prisoners who caused them so much grief and destroyed their home a few months back. Kasey and company are hungry for revenge.
The story shifts directions somewhat when the crew comes across a larger group of survivors who have staked their claim to a prison on the West Virginia-Ohio border. Things also change when it becomes clear that the zombies are transforming-at least some of them. Newer undead are moving faster and are more cunning than the slow moving zeds of the first book. A mutation, Kasey and company suspect, but they have no way of knowing why this challenge to them surviving has occurred. What they do know is that these fast movers will be creating all sorts of troubles for Kasey, Jake, Mia, Zack, and Nancy, the core group that made it out alive of the first book, along with the survivors at the prison. The two groups form an allegiance, despite a few troublesome members of the new community that aren’t particular fond of Kasey and her group.
Often, the second book in a trilogy doesn’t really have as much of a chance to stand out as much as the first or third book. Its job is to transition us to the final act in the saga-often it isn’t as intriguing as its counterparts. I do have to admit that Murphy’s Law was, for me, was a better book than the first in the trilogy. While I enjoyed “The Plan”, I think the author has gained a stronger voice here for her characters. My pet peeve about changing perspectives back and forth from first person to third person remains from the first novel, but it felt much smoother in this book-far less of a distraction. Perhaps it is because Kasey, as a character, has grown on me. There is more to her, as well as the friends surrounding her. Michael, the leader of the community at the prison, is also fairly well fleshed out as a new main character that is likable. The story also seems to move at a faster clip, or so it felt and the advent of the fast zombies has definitely given the story some new intriguing elements to contend with.
As far as issues I had with this story, they were somewhat limited and going into detail on the main one would perhaps present a spoiler. I guess the best way to put it without giving anything significant away is that I was somewhat surprised at the level of tolerance the people living in the prison had to a particularly deadly choice Kasey makes in the story. I doubt that I would have been as understanding as most of them were. That decision does drive the story forward, so it is necessary, but still left me frustrated with both her actions and their reactions.
The characters are a mixed bag. I stated that I wasn’t a big fan of Jake in the first book, though he goes through some interesting transitions in this book that make him grow on me a bit more. He’s still a bit annoying. Kasey is still a take charge leader who is both likeable and confounding at different times, while Mia seems to be present, but I don’t feel that she necessarily gets fleshed out any further in this book than she already was in the first novel. Nancy remains a background character who is solid and likable. In general, the group retains a family-like bond with one another that feels comfortable and natural to the story.
Muprhy’s Law is a solid entry into the zombie genre. Perhaps not ground-breaking in its delivery-there are now a mix of fast and slow zombies, but they retain most of their Romero-esque qualities, but it is exciting, filled with action and compelling characters. I look forward to what is in store for Kasey and company and the final act in this saga.
Murphy’s Law can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/161868034X/ref=cm_cr_thx_view