State of Emergency

State of Emergency Book Cover State of Emergency
Mary Hallberg
Young Adult
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
August 5, 2017

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.


State of Emergency was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

State of Emergency finds itself in the zombie sub-genre and that is a tricky place to be. There are only a few routes you can go with a zombie story, basically during the outbreak and after it. This is a during the outbreak story; think more Night of the Living Dead or Shaun of the Dead and less 28 Days Later or The Walking Dead. In recent years, zombies have been popular for horror stories and are a topic that has been done to death. Thankfully, State of Emergency stays a lot fresher than members of the legions of the undead.

At only 158 pages, State of Emergency is a very short book. With that in mind, there was not a ton of page space for character development. That is not to say it is not there and what we do get is good for the book’s length. A small group of teenagers realize everything is going to hell in a handbasket while everyone else is in denial. One of the reasons this story works is because it feels very much like a real-world scenario.

The spread of the zombie virus starts in small, poor communities and largely goes unnoticed by the rest of society. By the time well-off people (and world leaders) realize, “Hey, this is a problem,” it is too late. The infection has already spread far and wide while people think it is a hoax and gears of politics turn too slowly to contain the situation. A big thing that State of Emergency gets right is the emotional dilemma of a zombie outbreak. Even when people become zombies, family and friends will tell themselves they are just sick and will get better. Most people are not going to shrug and shoot grandma in the head because she starts acting a little cannibalistic.

Because State of Emergency was a short book the story almost plays out like a movie. There is only X amount of time for character development and it kind of jumps from scene to scene. Many things in the story are also left open-ended, including the finale. There could easily be a sequel, but it reads fine stand-alone too. The only thing I do not 100% understand is the axe on the cover. The main character fights off zombies with a pizza cutter, not an axe. But I suppose a bloody pizza cutter just is not as intimidating for a cover (or is it?).

October 22, 2017

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