Waiting for Daybreak – Amanda McNeil Review

What is normal?

Frieda has never felt normal. She feels every emotion too strongly and lashes out at herself in punishment. But one day when she stays home from work too depressed to get out of bed, a virus breaks out turning her neighbors into flesh-eating, brain-hungry zombies. As her survival instinct kicks in keeping her safe from the zombies, Frieda can’t help but wonder if she now counts as healthy and normal, or is she still abnormal compared to every other human being who is craving brains?

The prospect of a zombie apocalypse has always been in the back of my mind.  I’ve always wondered how people would survive as society crumbled, how life would alter, and what the remnants of the world would look like.  In Waiting For Daybreak, Amanda McNeil describes the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse through the eyes of an unlikely heroine.

Even though Frieda has a personality disorder and periods of extreme depression, the character was still somehow easy to relate to.  In high school, she battles the same form of pressures and faces the same sort of vulnerabilities that every other teenager does. She also has that same desperate desire to fit in. Later on, she questions existence and the meaning of her life, which is also something most people do.  However, they aren’t as deeply affected by the answer as Frieda is.  Sometimes, Frieda disassociates and finds herself making violent, reckless, and erratic decisions.

For the first half of the book, we learn more about Frieda and the things she has done to ensure her survival. She’s created her own garden, makes rare foraging trips , occasionally has to kill one of the Afflicted, but has generally settled into a comfortable routine with her cat Snuggles.  When her cat falls sick, she ventures outside to get medication for it.  There, she meets Mike, the last uninfected man in  the Boston area. The book takes an interesting turn once there’s a second person…the relationship changes the atmosphere.  The whole novel is quite dark and forces you to see the world as obsolete.  Not only is the post-apocalyptic world desolate, Mike brings attention to how pointless it is.

However, I felt the end was portrayed as hopeful and almost enlightening.  This is a really interesting novel about how the word “normal” can be entirely relative. There are parts that could have been slightly expanded upon and the climax of the novel was quite abrupt, but overall, I liked this book and recommend it.

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