100 Days in Deadland (Deadland Saga #1) is a 2013 zombie horror novel written by Rachel Aukes and published by Surprisingly Adequate Publishing. It is the first book in the Deadland Saga and follows a young woman named Cash who, along with her companions Clutch and Jase, must struggle to survive in a world overrun by zombies.
- Great, well-written characters
- Compelling, well-written story
- Great character development
- Good writing
- Good world-building
Plot: The story follows a young woman named Cash who gets caught up in an apocalyptic event where the population is being turned into zombies. She narrowly escapes an assault on the highway when she is saved by a trucker named Clutch. The story opens up with the world ending as zombies run rampant, infecting everyone. Very fast paced, very engaging. One element of the story that’s prominent is that despite the zombie menace, there are other elements that threaten the group. There’s the unpredictable weather, dwindling food and water, and especially other humans who believe in kill or be killed. The main cast have interesting backstories that help add depth to the main story, helping to add to the stakes each character has to face. The story does leave off on a cliffhanger that doesn’t feel unwarranted. (3 out of 5)
Characters: The main cast of characters are just awesome and well-written. Due to the world going to hell, Mia becomes Cash and she’s a likable character with a great personality and over the course of the story becomes a stronger person, not only physically but mentally. She tries to show Clutch that she can be an asset rather than a liability, and this is the core of her development. Her determination that transforms her from an officer worker to a total badass survivor, but despite this maintaining her humanity. She has a good relationship with this Special Forces vet named Clutch who saves her. Dude is a pretty cool character himself, showing a certain level of complexity despite his initial cold demeanor. Guy suffers from PTSD and just wants to survive. He teaches her how to shoot, how to fight close quarters, just basic survival techniques. Teenage boy Jase is likable and his character does add a certain innocence to the three, which adds to their overall growth as a team. Much like Cash, he’s an innocent soul that’s caught up in this growing hell and must adapt in order to survive. Terrible that he witnessed his own parents deaths and that of his small dog. The main antagonist is a cliche, a military guy who just lets his power go to his head. Although there really isn’t much to the character; his methods, his goals, his setup is actually really interesting. For those Walking Dead fans he’s probably the equivalent of the Governor in season three. (4 out of 5)
Writing: Rachel Aukes does a fantastic job of relating the characters and their situations in a well written way. Also, her thoroughness with reminding the characters and readers that the world offers more than one threat does establish a rich setting. The writing also does something that I love in these types of situations. It takes its time developing the relationship between the characters and that makes for a deeper reading experience. Then there is the Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy incorporated into the story with the seven deadly sins that’s written really well. The zombies themselves are fairly traditional (called zeds), with the more recent infections being faster and stronger than the older, more deteriorated ones. However, the focus of the book is as strong on the zombie aspect as it is on the moral choices of the human characters. Action jumps off from the start and continues throughout the story keeping the pace pretty fast. The descriptions are done really especially when it comes down to the violence and gore. Even when it comes to certain topics you can tell that the research is there. Scenes can be pretty damn tense. One scene comes to mind is the school sequence in which Cash is separated from Clutch. The best way to describe the writing and setting is a mix of The Walking Dead meets World War Z so it’s easy to see how this could appeal to both audiences. (4 out of 5)
The Verdict: In the end, 100 Days in Deadland (Deadland Saga #1) is just an awesome book. It definitely does a good job of establishing an awesome setting with its share of rules and challenges. The characters are awesome, the story is well written, and the story is engaging. 100 Days in Deadland (Deadland Saga #1) gets 4 out of 5.