KT Volante’s After the World Flipped picks up right where When the World Flipped left off-with Lucy about to be attacked by LDs (the Living Dead).
The opening scene proves that Volante knows how to pack a real punch into her storyline. In both of her zombie novels, there is never a dull moment. Even when her characters aren’t busy fighting zombies, they are occupied with strategizing how to protect themselves from the Living Dead or from other humans who would take what is theirs.
In the first novel, readers watched how Lacey and her friends escaped a hospital when the zombie epidemic began. We watched them reach safety, find other survivors, and establish a small community in a gated compound. However, their survival requires venturing out from their compound to find food, clothes, and other necessities, and on one such venture, while they are harvesting food from a nearby garden, Lucy, one of the few children among the survivors, ends up in a bone-chilling situation where she is about to become the LDs’ lunch.
I won’t give away what happens in this opening scene, but I will say that adjusting to this new normal is not easy for any of the characters, especially the children. Volante does not provide us only with never-ending rollercoaster rides through the perils of her zombie world; she also gets into the psyches of the characters and how they cope with their new normal. For example, she shows us how Kevin, one of the other children, copes with knowing it’s his birthday and having no one remember it since his parents are dead. Fortunately, Lacey and her companions come together to develop a plan to cheer him up.
We also witness many difficult meetings and partings among the characters. In the first novel, four nuns were rescued by Lacey and her friends and brought to the compound. The nuns have their own way of doing things that isn’t always compatible with how Lacey, who is the leader, does things, so they experience some conflict. However, they also all respect one another for their skills and try to work together. When the Sisters learn some of their fellow nuns have survived at their Mother House and decide they want to move there, it makes for some poignant parting scenes and later some real surprises.
The biggest problem faced by the survivors, aside from the LDs, is that as their community grows, new members are not always willing to abide by the rules. As a result, when Lacey has her authority challenged by the leader of another compound, her family group comes close to civil war. While the LDs continue to be the obvious, visible enemy, Lacey now discovers her biggest threat might be from her fellow survivors.
And yet, amid all this new normal, there are happy moments of celebrations and also falling in love. Despite all the horrors, the human spirit continues on, adjusting and finding a way to survive even when it’s discovered that upon death, humans will now turn into LDs because of the virus.
To say more about After the World Flipped would be to give away too much. It’s sufficient to say that if you enjoy zombie novels, Volante’s books are well worth reading. They provide a far more realistic portrait of what life would be for survivors than most of the zombie films out there. All the thrills and chills are here, but so is a well-thought out portrayal of real life for the average people left alive.