Matt Pike’s “A Fate Worse than Beath,” Book 2 of his Zombie RiZing series, picks right up where Book 1 ends.
This time, Beath and her group of friends, Abby, Zhang, Sonny, and Vihaan, along with their science teacher Ms. Simmons a.k.a Ms. Magic (a nickname that is still being deliberated) go up against a giant and mean-spirited teenagers as well as the usual zombies (grunts), all while trying to find the supplies they need to survive.
The story is fast-paced, and at every turn Beath and her group have to overcome an obstacle. Luckily they’ve got magic on their side. Abby, a.k.a. Boom and Beath’s best friend, has the power to go Boom when necessary, which gives the group time to escape from a horde of grunts. And Zhang, a.k.a. Z-hang, can move objects at will, including grunts. Great for clearing pathways to run.
Matt Pike is a great storyteller, and so far the books in his Zombie RiZing series are epic, and feel very episodic. He brings to life his characters, and skillfully blends together each book, building up the action and suspense in addition to fleshing out characters and giving us a peek into their backstories.
Spoiler alert: Sonny, a.k.a. Rock, was saved from the initial onslaught of zombies because of a bowel movement.
And the whole story is written like a guide for newbs to the zombie apocalypse, which brings a gaming element to the series (what I’ve come to think of as Matt’s trademark).
Newbs get tips and inside information on the grunts, such as how to tell the age of a grunt, and also advice on how to deal with non-zombie strangers in an apocalypse. These tips brilliantly foreshadow or introduce the characters’ next big crisis.
Readers also have the opportunity to download collectibles associated with the book. These include character, knowledge, magic, epic, and survival cards—all illustrated in a very cool comic style.
Kids and adults can enjoy this series (I know I do). Matt Pike’s writing is engaging, fast-paced, and his stories are hard to put down. He writes in a very relatable way, cleverly and subtly inserting references to pop culture and plays on words. My favorite is the word “Dec” spray painted in front of the words “East High” to form the word “DecEast,” as in deceased.
Matt also manages to include well thought out insights, such as when it feels right to use a nickname and how nicknames even come about, with fart jokes. Not many people can do that, at least not well.
“A Fate Worse than Beath” is a quick read, and one that I highly recommend for anyone looking for an entertaining, action-packed, humorous, creative, apocalyptic story. For those who prefer to listen to stories, Matt also has an audiobook version of Book 1: “Scared to Beath,” with plans to release an audiobook version of Book 2: “A Fate Worse than Beath” soon. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of this series goes.