I received this book free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Last Bastion of the Living: A Futuristic Zombie Novel by Rhiannon Frater
Published by Self-Published on June 8th 2012
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Zombies
Source: the Author
Also by this author: The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege
The Bastion was humanity’s last hope against the fearsome undead creatures known as the Inferi Scourge. A fortified city with a high wall, surrounded by lush land rich with all the resources needed to survive, protected by high mountain summits, and a massive gate to secure the only pass into the valley, the Bastion became the last stronghold of the living on earth. But one fateful day, the gate failed and the Inferi Scourge destroyed the human settlements outside the walls and trapped the survivors inside the city. Now decades later, the last remaining humans are struggling to survive in a dying city as resources and hope dwindle.
Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her whole life within the towering walls of steel. She yearns for a life away from the overcrowded streets, rolling blackouts, and food shortages, but there is no hope for anyone as long as the Inferi Scourge howl outside the high walls. Her only refuge from the daily grind is in the arms of her lover, Dwayne Reichardt, an officer in the Bastion Constabulary. Both are highly-decorated veterans of the last disastrous push against the Inferi Scourge. Their secret affair is her only happiness.
Then one day Maria is summoned to meet with a mysterious representative from the Science Warfare Division and is offered the opportunity to finally destroy the Inferi Scourge in the valley and close the gate. The rewards of success are great, but she will have to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to accomplish the ultimate goal of securing the future of humanity and saving it from extinction.
After thoroughly enjoying the author’s ‘As the World Dies’ trilogy which was full of super awesome and terribly gruesome zombies, I was all on board for more. The Last Bastion of the Living completely knocked it out of the park for me. Set in a future completely changed and desolate, the zombies have destroyed any chance of survival for the last known group of people on Earth. Grasping at straws, the government makes one last desperate attempt to reclaim the surrounding lands and to solidify the livelihood of all.
Much like her ‘As the World Dies’ trilogy, Rhiannon never lacks for vivid and highly likable characters and an exciting storyline to boot. The main character, Maria, is an extremely strong and independent woman and she can kick some serious ass too. The story also switches up point-of-view with Maria’s boyfriend Dwayne who was also a well written character. One thing that I have to make note of is the relationship between Maria and Dwayne: an incredibly realistic relationship; something that I think is highly lacking in fiction novels these days. The strength of their bond was palpable in addition to how much they loved each other. It was a fabulous addition to the story but didn’t overpower the actual storyline in any way.
And speaking of the storyline… I cannot remember the last time I was reading a book and it created such vivid imagery in my mind to the point where it was as if I was watching a movie reel playing in my head. And what a badass movie it was! The writing didn’t have the feel of a screenplay thankfully, but I nonetheless could definitely see a movie being made from this story.
Only disappointment was the realization that this was a stand-alone novel so the story was over! I could definitely see potential paths that future installments could go with to make it a series but then again there was something satisfying about reading the story in its entirety and being done with it without having to wait for future installments. Stand-alone novels seem to be quite rare these days and I read far too many series so this was a nice change.
With a surprisingly original and refreshing take on the normal zombie tale this was a highly enjoyable thrill ride. Zombie lovers need not miss out on this gem.
How did you come up with the title?
Like the story, it came to me in a dream. I believe one of the characters called the city the last bastion of the living during the course of a conversation. When I woke up, I instantly thought, “I want to write that!” The story, the characters, and the title all showed up in a dream. It was a great jump start on the book, that’s for sure.
Personally, by the time I was finished with the prologue I was totally imagining The Last Bastion of the Living being one seriously awesome movie. Did you envision this as you were writing the book or did that come later?
The huge battle in the prologue was always a part of the story, but the dream started with the first chapter. When I began to write, I started at the same point as the dream did. As time went on I felt something important was missing. There was a lack of urgency in the narrative. Though the characters speak of the final push against the undead, I realized that the reader didn’t really understand how devastating it had been. I had been trying to incorporate flashbacks, but those weren’t working. I kept excising them.
I got very, very sick with the flu and had to stop writing on the book altogether. While I was feverish, I kept dreaming about the great battle where Dwayne and Maria had almost lost their lives. When I was well, I sat down and read what I had written so far. It was during that read-through that I recognized the need for the reader to see the final push against the Inferi Scourge.
So I just rewound the movie in my brain to an earlier point in time and wrote what I saw. I don’t know how it works for other writers, but I always feel I am watching a movie inside my own head and describing what I see to the best of my ability.
What is your favorite part in ‘The Last Bastion of the Living’?/What was your favorite part to write? (If different) 🙂
Well, it’s a bit of a tossup between two scenes as to which is my favorite. I love the ending completely, but I also like the opening of Chapter 1. There is such sweetness and sadness in that opening scene with Dwayne and Maria.
My favorite scene to write was toward the end of the book. There is this massive action sequence that was such a blast to watch in my mind’s eye theater, but was a total bitch to wrestle onto paper.
Do any of your characters names have a special meaning?
Well, Dwayne is named after Corporal Dwayne Hicks in Aliens. Maria is a bit of a Ripley, so why not? Maria’s name just came to me, so that was organic. I did name Lindsey after Lindsey Wagner, the Bionic Woman. I snagged Denman’s name from a former co-worker, and I re-named one solider Cormier after Giselle of Xpresso Reads. She was a test reader and I did it as a tribute to her nitpicking and making the book so much better.
Is this really going to remain as a stand-alone novel?
I have no plans to continue. I don’t want to saddle myself with another series. I have three that are going right now and it’s exhausting. It’s also a bit of a trap. I have a lot of other novel ideas in my head, but I’m obligated to my readers to finish up those series as quickly as I can. For a time, writers could take years to put out the next installment in a series and that was okay. Not anymore. Readers expect a book a year in a series, so I’m avoiding trapping myself with a new series for the time being.
That was the big allure of writing THE LAST BASTION OF THE LIVING. It was a standalone.
I’m flattered, but a little overwhelmed with how much demand there is for a sequel. I have no ideas for a sequel. My time in that world pretty much ended with the final scene. Plus, I love where this novel ended. It was such a perfect ending. I have no desire to muck it up.
Would you ever think about revisiting the world you created and simply change the point of view?
Nope. The heart of the story is Dwayne and Maria. I wouldn’t continue on without them. It would feel empty and bland. Those two characters are why I wrote the novel. The world around them was dynamic, but the second those two are out of the equation I lose all interest.
Could you tell us anything about your next big project?
PRETTY WHEN SHE KILLS is coming out in the near future. I’m working very hard to get that novel done. Also, I have a paranormal YA coming out with co-author Kody Boye. It’s called THE MIDNIGHT SPELL and I love it so much. It’s a blast. There will be one more AS THE WORLD DIES UNTOLD TALES volume released this year that wraps up that series. And I have a short story collection that will be coming out later as well called CTHUHLU’S DAUGHTER AND OTHER HORROR TALES. There might be a Last Bastion short story in that one. Maybe. We’ll see.
Rhiannon has been kind enough to offer an ebook copy of The Last Bastion of the Living for giveaway! Open Internationally. Giveaway ends July 17th, 2012.
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the AS THE WORLD DIES zombie trilogy and the author of several other books: the vampire novels PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES and THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. The first two books in her zombie trilogy, THE FIRST DAYS and FIGHTING TO SURVIVE, are available now in bookstores. SIEGE will be in bookstores on April 24, 2012.
Website: rhiannonfrater.com & astheworlddies.com