Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Jessica Meig’s “The Becoming: Ground Zero”

The Becoming: Ground Zero is the sequel to The Becoming, which is an apocalyptic zombie novel set in the American south, and introduces us to Ethan, a Memphis cop, Cade, a former sniper for the Israeli military, and Brandt, a marine who was stationed at the CDC, where the initial viral outbreak occurred after an experiment goes wrong, before he managed to escape while the plague is tearing apart the city.

The first novel explores the relationship between these three characters and some other survivors as they cope with the virus, the loss of friends and family members, and the total devastation of the human race.  By the end of that book they have settled into a house with a small group of other survivors and have somewhat accepted this new existence of hiding out and doing their best to stay alive.

The second book reintroduces us to these characters about a year later, living in the same house, when Avi, a girl who had been seeking them out after hearing about their successes in saving survivors in the area, comes to them with a request.  She would like them to go to Atlanta and get to the CDC, where she believes there is information hidden about the Michaluk virus-the plague that has killed the majority of the human race-that may help craft a cure.

The group is resistant to going to ground zero-where the plague originated-especially Ethan and Brandt, who both have their reasons for not wanting to go on what amounts to a suicide mission.  In many ways, making the trip makes little sense-they are safe, alive, and while plagued by zombies, they have been able to make due.  But after some tortured debate, with Remy, one of the minor characters from the first book (who comes into her own in this story), adamant about going, they decide to make the trip, and set out from their hiding place and head east to Georgia.

The Becoming: Ground Zero continues to build up the characters we met in the first book as well as some of the lesser characters who came along toward the end of the first tale-Remy is one and Gray and his brother Theo are the others.  The dynamics of the survivor’s relationships with one another play a major role here, with some of the same frustrations I had with the first book shining through-in particular with Ethan, who is the leader of this band but is the person who seems to let his emotions get the worst of him more than anyone else in the group.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit that I liked the first novel better, but it is often unfair to judge a sequel harshly because, simply put, it has a lot to live up to-especially when it is the middle book of a trilogy.  The author faces the challenge of crafting the ‘glue’ that makes the first book and third stick together instead of crafting a beginning and an end.  It starts off where the prior chapter concludes and must typically end with a dramatic flourish that promises a much greater reveal in the final chapter.  The audience must be kept interested while they know that the biggest shocks and surprises won’t be occurring in this books pages, more than likely.  The Becoming: Ground Zero has its moments of adrenaline fueled excitement, but it also has its lulls where the character’s interpersonal relationships overshadow the big picture.  Not a particularly major issue, as the author does a solid job of keeping the characters interesting, even if some of them are rather annoying.  With that said, whatever state of complacency the reader may fall into, they will get snapped out of it in the last portion of this book, when some very significant action takes place and some surprising things are revealed.  It definitely gives me ample reason to want to see how the story ends up in the final chapter of the trilogy.

Jessica Meigs has a talent for creating interesting characters.  While I may not be overly fond of how some of her characters act and react all the time, they are definitely human, with human failings (that tend to drive you nuts as you read about them).  The Becoming: Ground Zero does the job in bridging the gap between the first book and the last in this trilogy.  While it lacks the energy and overall excitement of the first book, it left me anxious to find out what is to become of the surviving characters in the third book.

The Becoming: Ground Zero can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1618680382/ref=cm_cr_thx_view

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