Editorial Review: Deadbreak by Jorge Sanchez
In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, Jeremiah Reid makes a living with his collection of boomsticks and loyal dog, while trying to find his way back to his young daughter.
While this premise is nothing new for a zombie adventure, Jeremiah’s snappy snark throughout his quest will keep readers entertained. Jeremiah spends his days fighting off zombie hordes and defending the helpless, all while quoting movies and cracking jokes. He keeps up a constant one-sided argument with his faithful dog, Joe the Fourth, and no matter how hopeless the situation, Jeremiah sees the funny side and rolls his eyes at danger.
Told in first-person by wisecracking Jeremiah, this is a story of survival against incredible odds. To survive, the remaining humans are up against not just zombie hordes, but violent other survivors, lack of food, common injuries and illness without medical services, and just the general damages of harsh weather. Through it all, Jeremiah never runs out of snarky quips or movie quotes.
The arrival of the zombies, called Deadbreak, is a believable zombie origin story, but in typical Jeremiah fashion, his explanation is not concerned with larger questions of history or guilt. Most cities have been destroyed, with the surviving humans gathering in fortified camps under makeshift governments or joining roving bands. Jeremiah gets by on scavenging, opportunistic theft, and trading his found goods. Meds, ammo, and booze are hot commodities, but he also deals in food, and more importantly, seasoning for food. This makes the world feel more realistic, since in the well-armed post-zombie world shooting a squirrel isn’t nearly as difficult as making it taste good.
The story gets moving when Rivet City, Jeremiah’s temporary home, is attacked and overrun by CCB, a dangerous post-Deadbreak band who turn some captives into artificial zombies and use the others as slaves for various dark purposes. Although Jeremiah had planned to continue west to find his daughter, Penny, he feels some loyalty for his neighbors, especially when he realizes that the CCB attack was an inside job. Jeremiah’s crush, Jenny, a veterinarian turned nurse after Deadbreak, has been taken prisoner too. Naturally, Jeremiah has to take his revenge, which means grabbing his weapons, shooting some baddies, and having narrow escapes.
That’s the heart of the book: A variety of human and undead baddies attack the innocents and Jeremiah shoots them up, while making jokes. Throughout the book, Jeremiah’s goals are to find his daughter and not die (in that order), and although each enemy encounter is different, the stakes don’t really change. Our main character has a lot of endearing qualities, but since Jeremiah doesn’t really care deeply about anyone, besides Jenny and Penny, the supporting characters fall a bit flat. There’s not a lot of emotional impact when a minor character succumbs to zombies or narrowly escapes.
Throughout the book, our hero receives some nasty injuries, so this adventure story is not for the faint of heart. Some of the battles are gory, but they also serve to build Jeremiah’s character, showing his strength and resilience when faced with adversity. Jeremiah's sense of humor always shines through, with him joking away while under fire or in pain. Other encounters show the destructive force of zombies and glowies or highlight just how dangerous some of the post-apocalyptic organizations can be. This add to the suspense when you realize that the characters find themselves in an eerily dangerous world. But at times the gore gets gratuitous, and the battle blow-by-blow can slow down emotionally dramatic moments.
Overall Deadbreak is a solid post-apocalyptic adventure with a wisecracking hero.