Review of Bigger Monsters by Eliza Andrews
I may not be ready for another pandemic book but it turns out I was more than ready for a post-pandemic apocalypse-with-zombies story. Because, you know, things can always get worse and books, like nightmares, are a good way of exorcising those fears.
Violently torn away from the Walmart in North Carolina they had come to call home, Will, her ex-fiancée Beth and Will’s mother Joyce stumble upon a community that seems to survive pretty well in this post-apocalyptic world populated with zombies. Determined to be allowed to stay, they try to ingratiate themselves to the members, despite one of the founders’ misgivings. Kaye Dennett, the only person to use her full name despite the apocalypse, doesn’t trust the newcomers and she really really hopes she’s wrong about them.
I love a sarcastic lesbian, as long as there’s more to the character than well-timed zingers and I loved Will at first sight. I’m always going to be on the side of the social worker with a purple mohawk, especially one who fights zombies with her manipulative mother. As the story progressed, however, I began to like her less and less. On the other hand, I came to appreciate not-so-stuck-up Kaye more and more.
The story is told in first person from Will’s point of view and from Kaye’s. I didn’t expect the twist mid-way. Or rather, I started expecting it after a while but was hoping it wouldn’t come. Not because it didn’t fit the story – it absolutely fit – but because it turned it from fun to deep and left me thoroughly unsettled and feeling slightly guilty for having liked Will to begin with. I’m not complaining, though. I wasn’t reading this book for comfort.
Beneath the fun and exciting surface, Bigger Monsters is a morally complex reflection on humanity, on whether right and wrong are immutable or can evolve in life and death situations, on how far one is willing to go to survive. I’ve only read a couple of books by Andrews before this one and I loved them both. I liked this one but I wasn’t carried away the way I was with the other two – Princess of Dorsa and Reverie – did. It’s not that kind of book. It’s just as clever and well-written, however. And the audiobook, narrated by Elizabeth Saydah, is going to sound pretty good too, judging by the first two chapters Eliza Andrews shared.