When the dead walk the earth, it is easy to assume they’re the biggest threat. In reality, those left living eventually evolve into the true danger. Zombies become a minor inconvenience compared to what humanity is capable of. This simple truth is often overlooked in zombie fiction. Too many novels in the genre focus completely on the obvious. They’re full of empty plots thinly veiled with gratuitous gore and violence. Fortunately, the latest piece of zombie fiction to cross our desk is none of the aforementioned. Kit’s Rebellion from author CJ Grant tells a tale of post-apocalyptic survival that just happens to involve the undead. To be honest, we completely forgot we were reading a zombie book several times. Much to our own surprise … we’re good with that.
Let’s back up here for just a second. We don’t want our zombie fan cards revoked. We don’t have a problem with blood and guts. You can’t write a good zombie book without them. Too many writers use gore as a crutch. It’s so common when an author offers to send us their book for review, we’ve come to expect much gore and little content.
When author CJ Grant asked if we would like to review her new zombie themed book, she didn’t provide us with a lot of details. We were intrigued but expected the same old song and dance. Kit’s Rebellion was different from the very beginning.
When this first crossed our desk, we were skeptical. It didn’t look like what we’re used to. We heard, “Isn’t this supposed to be a book about zombies?” more than once. The cover isn’t over the top. No guns. No blood. No zombies. No hazmat suits or flashy biohazard symbols. If you were casually browsing for a zombie novel, you’d likely walk right by this one on the bookshelf. If you did flip it over to read the back cover, you’d only see a couple references to zombies.
We opened the book up and read the first sentence, “I witnessed my first execution when I was six years old.” At that point we got it. This isn’t going to be a book about zombies. We were correct.
Unlike so many other undead themed books, the story here isn’t zombies. There are plenty of encounters with the walking dead; they just aren’t the central focus. The real story resides with the characters and their unique struggles. This is a book about humanity, relationships and survival. Above all, Grant pens a tale about the struggle to have the courage and conviction to stand up for what is right in the face of adversity. Kit’s Rebellion doesn’t even start where most of zombie tales start.
Kit’s Rebellion Plot Synopsis
It opens in April of 2043, long after the initial outbreak. As a reader you don’t learn much about the actual beginning. Instead you’re thrown into the lives of survivors many years after the outbreak.
Most of civilization is gone and the world has reverted to a more primitive time. What is left of humanity is scattered into groups of survivor camps. Necessities like food and supplies are limited. Ammunition is a precious commodity and most of the encounters with shamblers are handled via bow and arrow or knives when possible. When survivors aren’t fighting off flesh eating monsters they’re dealing with the unique challenges of this harsh world. At best they’re trying to coexist with themselves and other survivors. At worst they’re defending themselves against desperate and violent bands of raiders while surviving among the walking dead.
Our protagonist, Kit O’Brien , is a twenty year old who grew up as an orphan in one of these groups of survivors, Camp Kraft. A rising member of the militia, Kit is also one of the camp’s most skilled fighters.
A brutal form of mixed martial arts style fighting is now the main source of entertainment. These fights generally end up with bad bruises, broken bones and very sore bodies. Fighters are battered but they live to fight another day. That is, until the camp’s leader, Governor Garret Kraft, decides to up the ante and raise the stakes for his own amusement.
When Governor Kraft announces he’s going to be starting gladiator style matches where competitors fight to the death, people start to talk. While on a supply run Kit and other members of the militia discover a dark secret. To make matters worse, Garret throws some special and very dangerous surprises their way during gladiator matches. This coupled with witnessing a questionable execution or two causes Kit and other members of the militia to grow concerned about their leader.
As this book’s tagline says, sometimes loyalty means rebellion. Kit and the other members of the rebellion must choose loyalty to their camp’s leader or loyalty to one another and the greater good. As if juggling all of this isn’t enough, along the way Kit and the others must deal with the same things most of us worry about in normal life: friendship, relationships and the struggle to find ourselves and our place in the world.
Will Kit and the others decide to overthrow the governor? Will they find a way to lead their camp without losing all sense of right or wrong? How? You’ll have to read Kit’s Rebellion from CJ Grant to find out.
- A unique angle on the zombie genre with enough familiarity to satisfy zombie fiction addicts. This one is good for die hard zombie fans or general fans of fiction.
- Relatable and well-developed characters.
- Zombies, gore and violence are the side dishes and not the main course here.
- The author doesn’t delve too deep into the main cause of the outbreak. As a reader you’re thrown into this new world and you deal with it as it happens. We enjoyed this and it made us more immersed in the story. This small touch made it feel like we were part of the story instead of an outsider looking in.
- Length of 305 pages is good. Avid readers could consume this in a single sitting or over a light weekend. More casual readers will enjoy the book’s pacing and length.
- Grant concludes the story in a good place. There are no agonizing anxiety provoking cliff hangers here. She wraps things up nicely while leaving the option to continue the story wide open.
- Some Zombie aficionados may find this one needs more undead gore.
- There are a few moments involving mature situations. The author doesn’t go into vivid detail, but some adult language is used. Intercourse is used as a rite of passage and to repay debt in this new world. As a result, the topic is broached multiple times. This may be less than ideal for younger readers and unsettling to those easily offended. Most details are implied but we felt it is still worth nothing.
With Kit’s Rebellion, author CJ Grant manages to tackle the zombie genre without telling the same old tired tale. That’s no easy task. Many undead dystopian novels use violence and gore to hide a barren manuscript devoid of personality. Grant takes the opposite approach. She creates an engaging plot told through relatable characters. Instead of relying on the obvious threats she focuses on the human side things. There’s still plenty of carnage along the way. Flesh craving monsters are components and not the main product.
If you removed zombies and replaced them with almost any other threat, this would still be a great read. If you’re looking for a unique zombie book (or just an excellent book in general) we highly recommend checking this one out.