Early Review: Devil’s Wake by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

Devil’s Wake by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes
Atria/July 31st, 2012

What happens when an unprecedented infection sweeps the world, leaving the earth on the brink of the Apocalypse?
But this infection goes far beyond disease. Beyond even the nightmare images of walking dead or flesh-eating ghouls. The infected are turning into creatures unlike anything ever dreamed of . . . more complex, more mysterious, and more deadly.
Trapped in the northwestern United States as winter begins to fall, Terry and Kendra have only one choice: they and their friends must cross a thousand miles of no-man’s-land in a rickety school bus, battling ravenous hordes, human raiders, and their own fears.
In the midst of apocalypse, they find something no one could have anticipated . . . love.

I’m always willing to read a book in the interest of important zombie research, so Devil’s Wake was definitely on my radar. Devil’s Wake follows two teenagers, Kendra, a girl left adrift on her own, and Terry, one of a group of kids that make up the Red Meadows Five, serving their time as camp counselors instead of in the Washington juvenile justice system. After their bosses, Vern and his wife Molly are attacked, turning Vern into a zombie, the group decides to hit the road in a big navy blue school bus called Blue Beauty. Eventually, the little group crosses paths with Kendra, and she joins them, hoping to make it somewhere safe.

Safety is relative in this new world of constant danger, death, and loss, and our group has quite a haul ahead of them. Terry eventually emerges as the de facto leader of the group, although the physically larger Piranha seems to give him a run for his money a few times. Kendra is drawn to Terry, and although she comes off as quite dependent at first, she eventually holds her own. The group has heard rumors about an island called Devil’s Wake, that may be a safe haven, but they have to make it there first, and that means battling through groups of freaks (aka zombies), as well as human menaces. Constant vigilance is necessary, and I can’t imagine being a teenager in this situation, without any help other than fellow teens. I appreciate that they made quite a few mistakes, but also proved quite self-sufficient and streetwise, and the group dynamic is relatively conflict free. There are no descents into Lord of the Flies territory here, and I enjoyed the cautious optimism of these teens thrust into an indescribably horrible situation. The zombies are a little different in Devil’s Wake, though. Some zombies seem to retain shadows of their old selves, and can utter simple sentences, which ups the creep factor quite a bit. Also, Kendra has had dreams, even before the outbreak, that signaled something bad to come, so I’m curious to see if that will be explored further. The author are old pros, and it shows in the writing. We never really get to know any character too in depth, although of course we get to know Terry and Kendra a little bit better than the rest. While there is plenty of zombie action, the gore is never over the top, so this book could appeal to older teens as well as zombie aficionados. While no new ground is broken here, it’s an entertaining entry in the zombie pantheon,  and the ending leaves things open for another book,  strongly hinting at a burdgeoning romance between Terry and Kendra. I’ll be interested to see where the authors take this group of teens, and plan on picking up book 2 when it comes out!

Pre-Order Devil’s Wake: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries)
2. Giveaway is for 2 copies of Devil’s Wake by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes to 2 winners.
3. Giveaway is open to US  addresses only (no PO boxes).
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 7/31/12
6. Giveaway books courtesy of Atria
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

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  1. The book Devil’s Wake made me find this brilliant book site. Talking about the book which is still in pre-order, the explanation above sounds fantastic! Won or not, I’m certainly going to read it! Like I always say, it’s ‘My kind of book’. Great!

  2. This book sounds great! I’m adding this to my TBR list 🙂

  3. I do love a good zombie story 🙂

  4. Devil’s Wake has me thinking, as does your review. Excellent description of the story. Will be picking up a copy if I don’t get lucky and win!
    I can’t resist a zombie story.

  5. Ames, Galena, and Laura-Thanks so much for reading the review, and good luck!

  6. The brink of the Apocalypse and Zombies….two of the things I love reading about! I will definately read this book.

  7. This is a new title to me and I just love finding new and interesting books. Thank you so much for sharing today and for the awesome giveaway opportunity.

  8. I’ve read EVERYTHING by Tananarive Due, but this will be my first Steven Barnes. I’m looking forward to a great adventure.

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