While it wasn't necessarily a bad book, there were so many little issues with Desolation that I really had trouble enjoying it.
On the plus side, Travis Simmons has definitely done something interesting with zombies here, adding a little fresh blood and brains to a genre that's become very tapped out. Rather than limit himself to a choice between the classic shuffling zombie and the contemporary speedy one, he incorporates both into his story, and then adds a third flavor in the infernals - basically zombies with brains. Not content to stop there, he also adds an even darker element, with human necromancers who have the power to create and control the zombies. It definitely makes for a very dark, exciting read, but he needs more space to fully explore the concepts.
Unfortunately, this is a book that's in dire need of an editor. While I generally don't like to focus on that element in my reviews, when it becomes a distraction - as it did here - I have to call it out. Little things like the proper use of its/it's and there/their/they're are one thing. They're annoyances, but you can train your mind to skip by them. Wrong or missing punctuation is another thing entirely, however, and there were passages - particularly following a line of dialogue - where my reading just hit a brick wall of incomprehension. Also, while I know it's difficult to work personal details into a first person narrative, it shouldn't have taken 7 or 8 chapters before Asher is revealed as a guy. Yes, I know it's clear in the synopsis, but when a book has sat on your e-reader for a few months, the value of a synopsis or cover blurb is entirely lost.
As for Asher being a guy, I certainly had no issues with that, and thought gay romance angle was an interesting touch, particularly with his lingering feelings for his now-zombie boyfriend. Their romance was solid, and I think Asher's grief was very well portrayed. In addition, I really liked how Simmons continued to play with the romance angle, right up to the climax of their final zombie confrontation. My problem with Asher was not his sexuality, but his personality and his perfection. He's a little too much of the perfect hero, more a pulp adventure novel cliché than somebody fit to lead a post-apocalyptic horror novel.
Ultimately, this felt like a young adult novel that was deliberately sexed-up and bloodied-up to appeal to a wider audience. It certainly has potential, and I think Simmons can do some really exciting things with the material, but this first volume is just a bit too rough and unpolished for my tastes.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins