CriticalBlast – May 1st: Dedicated to delivering news, reviews, opinions and interviews from the field of entertainment and pop culture.
FORSAKEN HEARTS is the second book in the DEAD HEARTS novels by Susanne L. Lambdin, which takes place somewhere in the upper western portion of the United States a year or so after a devastating virus has destroyed most of humanity turning them into zombies and other creatures. The small pockets of normal humans left are trying to survive against the obvious threats, but also new and emerging ones as the virus continues to mutate.
It also takes place after a pivotal battle at Pike’s Peak in the first novel.
Now, admittedly, not having read the first novel, I was not sure how I was going to catch on to things--the characters, places, continuing story lines--but I will say Susanne did a very good job here of referencing just enough to the first book throughout the story to give the reader enough information to gain an understanding of what is going, on but not so much that the story would become a rehashing of the first book.
That’s not to say I found out everything, but tantalizingly enough to make me want to read the first book to find out more. That, to me, is a mark of good storytelling. Another one is getting me involved from the get-go and keeping me involved. I don’t like slow-downs, and hate when some says a book is good except for two or three chapters in the middle. My time is too valuable to waste languishing over several chapters waiting for it to get better. I’m of the ilk where if I get bored, the book goes down and I never pick it up again.
Susanne kept me interested right from the start, and that is not easy for any sequel to do when the reader has not read the first one.
What I found to be so much fun in the book is that there is something for everyone in terms of what you might like in an apocalyptic world. There are (of course) zombies, but oddly enough in this zombie thriller they are not the most relevant creatures. While, yes, they are ever present, there are the other creatures that humans have evolved into because of the virus. We have here both good and bad vampires, werepumas, and werewolves, and glimpses of new beings that we are just beginning to gain insight into that I’m sure will be expounded on in subsequent books. And if that is not enough for you, it appears these creatures have special powers to go along with their new lives, such as the ability to move blindingly fast, morph into their new forms at will, or heal inexplicably fast.
The book follows a good pace, where we learn about all the creatures and their attributes, as the remaining humans deal with trying to survive against and with them.
There are many characters in this book, more so than I recall in most of the other novels I have read, and it would have been painstakingly difficult if it not for Susanne grouping them together; there are the Vikings, with familiar Norse names, bikers with easy to remember “biker” names, and so forth.
The chapters are not overly long, where you might forget what happened and who the people were in the previous chapters before getting back to them--another mark of good storytelling.
So with all this, what is the book actually about? Well, after some pivotal battle at Pike’s Peak (which I still don’t know exactly what happened), the remaining surviving humans, led by a woman named Cadence (who was able survive a Zombie bite), have set up camp and are trying to create a real life instead of merely surviving. At the same time, they are trying to fortify their new home against the zombies and an even greater threat: a vampire known as the Kaiser, who has not only set up camp with his fellow vampires nearby, but is staking his claim on the new world as one of its leaders and has plans for the remaining humans as both food and sport.