Shane Gregory's Fire Birds is the third book in the zombie-apocalyptic King of Clayfield series. We reviewed book one here, and book two here. This is the third book, and possibly final book. Most of the local loose threads, and more than a few new threads, get tied up in this one. But with one group not accounted for (they could just be dead), the author has left himself open for a fourth book. Previously I had listened to the first two books in the series, with less car-time at the moment, I decided to read this one on the Kindle.
We went over the authors biography in the review of the first book, so we won't repeat that here, other than to remind folks that Clayfield is in reality the Western Kentucky town of Mayfield where the author works as a museum director.
The King of Clayfield series features mostly slow zombies, with only the fresh one being fast. As we start this book, the collapse is almost a year old and well into summer. Our hero has been left to his own devices on a large fenced in farming property outside of towns. The zombies are starting to rot out, and you don't see the new ones so much any more. Missing his missing girlfriend, his loneliness seems to be wearing him down.
Well, people, living people, start to show up. And man does life get complicated. His lost love arrives, but having thought the hero was dead, she has a new boyfriend in tow. It also becomes obvious that she is not so much a sweet innocent person, as one who makes a survival strategy of adopting to the cultural environment around her. It gets very sticky, very fast.
What makes this series interesting is that the characters are entirely believable. There are some extremely annoying people, who still make themselves useful at times. The bad guys have fairly normal motivations, they are just rather forceful in satisfying those desires. The baddies are also an odd mixture of annoying, revolting, inept, and deadly: sometimes all within the same person.
Both the good guys and bad guys make series mistakes. Recovering, or taking advantage of those mistakes almost seems to be one of the lesson of the novel. You need people to create a co community to survive within, but those same people can get you killed just as well.
So did I like it? Yes I did. I would certainly recommend it to the zombie-crowd, but with the zombies not being quit as important as they rot away, it starts looking like a more reality based survival novel. Easy supplies are running low, and differing strategies for survival become an issue.
We now come to our two descriptive (not qualitative) ratings: 1 to 7 with 4 the mid-point and 7 high. Realism does not include the cause of the collapse or apocalypse, but is otherwise an assessment of how close to today's world is the setting. Could you imagine your friends, or families living through the situation. Readability is not literary merits, but literally how quick and painless of a read.
We gave a 5 to the first one, and a 3 to the second one. This one has a few moments of silliness, but they are much more plausible than the second novel. The hero's combat abilities are toned down, and the combat seems to be fairly realistic. You shoot at people, and miss. You shoot again, and hit, but they don't die right away. Issues of long term supplies are an issue, as well as the long term mental health issues plaguing the survivors of the collapse. There are still zombies, so we will knock of one point and call it a 6.
Readability is easy. The flow of this novel is better than the first two, and they were both 7s. So again we have a 7.