Mortality by Kellie Sheridan: Review by Erin Davies
After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history.There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death. Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore. Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.
One could argue that zombie lit has been around longer, it didn’t officially emerge as its own subgenre until the 1990s. That’s kind of hard for me to wrap my head around, mainly because it coincides with my first independent adventures into Barnes and Noble, but that’s neither here nor there. Point is the genre has been around nearly as long as I have and though I am familiar enough the idea on film, I can honestly say Kellie Sheridan’s Mortality mark my first encounter with the undead in printed lit.
Overall, I liked what Sheridan did with this piece. I think the generational forms of the virus offer a nice twist and I absolutely adore her treatment of Zarah. There are a lot of limitations to what you can do with a post apocalyptic zombie world and I was pleased with the originality this author brought to the table even if the execution left me feeling a little cheated. I don’t mean to be overly critical, I’m merely stating I think this young author has room to grow particularly in terms of structure.
For example, I think Savannah and Zarah’s stories were kept apart far too long, a style choice that lent itself to the predictability of the ending. I was roughly halfway through the book, explaining the concept to my husband when it hit me. I literally told him there was only one way to close this story and called it. Had Sheridan played these stories closer together, equalized Savannah and Zarah’s face time with the reader, heightened the emotional tension, teasing her audience not with the obvious question of what, but the tantalizing proposition of when, the climax would have packed much more of a punch.
Despite this, I honestly feel The Hitchhiker Strain series has loads of potential and am eager to see where Sheridan takes it in the future.