The much anticipated debut novel by aspiring writer Zachary Tyler Linville has now been published through the online crowdfunding publisher Inkshares and is available for all readers to enjoy. Welcome to Deadland resembles a zombie apocalypse story with a disease that has swept across the globe turning anyone infected into an animal-like human with an anger and hunger towards other humans. Those who have managed to escape the disease are forced to fight for daily survival in a world nearly overrun by the infected. Some of these younger escapees include Asher, Wendy, and Rico who must band together to find sanctuary if they wish to survive the apocalypse of disease-ridden humans.
Winner of The Nerdist Collection Contest, Linville certainly impresses with his debut in more ways than one. The story, the characters, the writing style — everything is wonderfully executed in Welcome to Deadland. The title itself, along with its premise, will capture the attention of a rather large reading audience due to the popularity in dystopian fiction as well as The Walking Dead show. Little do readers know that they will be receiving more than just another apocalyptic story: they will open the pages to a well-written and rather realistic dystopian world that is only the beginning of a series Linville plans to publish.
Readers will notice right away the characters and the jump between past and present for each of them. Jumping between time periods usually results in good storytelling, covering a broad spectrum of time in a limited number of pages; however, some authors struggle with helping the readers understand where the characters are at certain parts of the story. Linville encounters no such struggle and makes it incredibly easy to follow the characters and at what point during or before the outbreak said characters are at.
The three main characters themselves are all incredibly likeable and realistic. All are young, roughly about high school or college age, and all have their own haunted pasts they are struggling to cope with during what appears to be the end of humanity. Asher is a young man healing from a past relationship that proved difficult to even begin; Wendy’s only friend is Asher who she fears she will lose if she reveals her dark secret to him; Rico is a trouble maker who suffers from a traumatic family past and is put in charge of protecting a six-year-old boy as soon as the infected take over. Each character is unique and readers will find themselves growing attached to, more than likely, all three as they learn more about their pasts and personalities with each passing chapter.
Linville makes his story just as realistic as his characters, thus making Welcome to Deadland even more intriguing to a large audience of readers. His “zombies” are not technically “zombies,” but rather people overcome by a terrible sickness. Nearly on par with the Simian Flu from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the people “infected” by the disease in Linville’s story do not die, but rather become like the living dead. Overcome by rage and hunger, infected humans revert to an animalistic nature and only wish to feed on other humans. The cause of the disease is unknown until further books, but the way the characters and the world are introduced to the disease is in a way that possibly could happen. This makes the story that much more terrifying.
Many readers may pick up Welcome to Deadland due to its title and/or premise, but Linville’s debut will reach a much broader audience than what its title and premise reveal. A well-executed and well-written story, Linville impresses in more ways than one with likeable characters and a realistic revelation of a “zombie” apocalypse. His easy-to-follow jumps between past and present tense accompanied with short chapters makes for an easy-to-understand and hard-to-put-down story. Readers will more than likely find themselves becoming so invested in the story that, upon reaching its conclusion, they will be incredibly curious to know what happens next.