State of Emergency by Mary Hallberg #BookReview

Title: State of Emergency | Author: Mary Hallberg | Pub. Date: 2017-8-5 | Pages: 158 | ISBN13: 9781548327958 | Genre: Young Adult Horror / Apocalyptic | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.

State of Emergency

17-year-old Dallas Langdon is fighting off zombies with a pizza cutter.

Dallas has always loved zombie movies. But when she catches a real live (erm, dead) musician eating a man’s intestines backstage after the show, she knows her movies have become a reality. And what do characters in zombie movies do? Seek shelter. Fortunately, Dallas’s eccentric uncle owns a farmhouse in Chattanooga, an eight hour drive from New Orleans. It’s on top of a steep mountain, surrounded by electric fences, and cut off from the worlds of the living and the dead.

Dallas’s parents, still safe at home, laugh at her idea over the phone. Her friends only agree to join her because it’s fall break and they could use a mini vacation anyway.

But then Dallas’s best friend is killed by a zombie horde when they’re attracted to her ringing cell phone. Civilians think their reanimated loved ones simply have the flu, leaving them alive (well, undead) and rapidly increasing the zombies ranks. And since minors can’t buy guns, Dallas’s only weapon is a giant industrial pizza cutter she swipes from a gas station. George A. Romero never mentioned anything like this. With one friend dead and no zombie survival guides to help her, Dallas and her friends must get to Chattanooga before joining the ranks of the undead themselves.

Book cover for State of Emergency

State of Emergency Review

State of Emergency is a nice, quick read set in the beginning of a zombie outbreak. It’s only 158 pages long, but it gives you a cool look into the beginning of the zombie apocalypse as seen through the eyes of a seventeen year old girl who grew up on horror movies. I was reminded a small touch of the Feed novel by Mira Grant because of this, and a line about being a certain weight to turn. (Not a bad thing at all.) It really does make you stop and wonder how people that have grown up in the last few decades would react should something like this come about. I want to believe that a lot of us would react like Dallas did, but…

The book covers days 1-6 of the outbreak in detail, then skips ahead and shows you the characters at a few different parts of their journey. There’s not a lot (if any? I don’t remember exactly) of cursing in State of Emergency, only a few kissing scenes, and none of the seemingly obligatory end of the world mating. The main character, far from being a rebellious teen, is driven to succeed and seems to have a strong spiritual grounding. She does everything she can to keep her sister and friends safe.  While the book is short, we do see some of the characters grow up a little bit as they are forced to make decisions that nobody should have to make.

I liked the way Mary Hallberg rolled out the country’s gradual realization that the dead really were rising. The newscasters’ (and others) reluctance to accept this was really happening and how they chose to downplay the situation. The way she portrayed people willfully ignoring the problems, and how they thought that something like sanitizing their hands would be okay felt very ‘real’. This was another thing that brought Feed to mind when reading it. I guess I’m just drawn to scenarios/situations where people’s reactions seem very accurate.

The zombies themselves in State of Emergency are a mix of various types that we’ve seen portrayed in books and movies. From the typical Romero slow-shuffling, to the more-present day runners, and even those like you see in Shaun of the Dead.

State of Emergency is, however, hampered by the fact that it is so short. While I appreciated the book, I never really had a reason to care about any of the characters. I liked Dallas well enough, but didn’t particularly root for her.  People who enjoy short stories may get more pleasure out of the book by reading one ‘day’ at a time. I might have enjoyed it more that way. Instead, I read it all in one go and felt a little unsatisfied as a result.

Overall, State of Emergency good read featuring a main character who isn’t afraid to call a zombie a zombie. Nor is she afraid to kill it if she need to. Its a little ‘light’ for my taste, but I think there’s a certain type of reader that it will strongly appeal to. 

Buy link: Amazon



3 thoughts on “State of Emergency by Mary Hallberg #BookReview

  1. This sounds so similar to another zombie book I read. Wish I could remember the name of it. It had a female teen protagonist, but it was her grandmother who had a fenced in farm, fully prepped. I’m wanting to think it’s one by Rhiannon Frater but not sure. Have you read any of her zombie books?

  2. Sounds interesting. I recently listened to a true life podcast called Dirty John and there is a girl that grew up watching The Walking Dead. I won’t say anything else in case someone else wants to discover it. Only that it was so fascinating and horror movies are never a waste of time 🙂

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