Book Review: Barely Alive by Bonnie R. Paulson

I don't review a lot of zombie themed books here on A Mama's Corner of the World--but, when I was offered the opportunity to review the Barely Alive series from author Bonnie R. Paulson, I was excited.  I enjoyed Paulson's Into the End series and wanted to read more from her.  How did book one, Barely Alive stand up to review in A Mama's Corner of the World?

A quick summary of Barely Alive.  17-year old Paul Ledger is caught up in a horrible cult.  After being infected with a zombie virus along with other cult members, Paul has twelve weeks to live--or at least he hopes so.  Paul battles his thoughts and emotions as the virus symptoms grow in a dying body.  Paul must earn the final death he longs for, or he’ll be chained in a basement facility, moaning for human flesh for eternity. Sent out to kidnap girls for food, toys, or whatever the boss wants, Paul nabs Heather McCain. He’s not a fan of humans as a general rule, but even his graying skin and insatiable hunger for her flesh don’t stop her from reaching out to him. Give him the second chance he doesn’t know he needs. Overcome by his cravings, Paul bites her delectable skin. Amazingly, she doesn’t develop the zombie-like side effects. When the boss discovers Heather’s immunity, he gives Paul an ultimatum – deliver up Heather and her family to continue the research or watch as Paul’s brother suffers the zombie fate. Paul has a chance to endure his short zombie existence knowing his brother is safe. But he’ll have to sacrifice Heather to do it.

Paulson's creates wonderful, strong characters.  Barely Alive's main character is a 17-year old boy--wise beyond his years.  Paulson develops characters that are strong, brave, and ready for a good vs. evil battle.  Paul, the main character, is a zombie with a heart--something not generally found in such books.  Heather, the love interest and possible savior, is also wise beyond her years and is able to see the good in Paul and not the human-race-ending evil.  As much as readers will side with Heather and Paul--and hope for good to prevail, they will immediately hate Dominic, the cult leader, who exhibits all things evil and dark in a human. 

Barely Alive is more than a zombie/human love story.  While the love story that emerges between Paul and Heather is certainly integral to the story's plot--Barely Alive is more than a superficial, far fetched love story.  Paulson serves up a well written, well developed, good vs. evil storyline that is easy to read and fast paced with action and a lot of character soul searching.

Barely Alive is not just for zombie lovers.  Paulson approaches the zombie slightly differently as she scientifically creates them in Barely Alive via virus injection.  As a reader, I realized that Paul was enroute to zombie eternity--and was visibly dying--but, the book focuses more on the pyschological roller coaster that Paul faced throughout the ordeal than being a mindless, lifeless zombie.  I think anyone with an interest in medical or viral plagues would find this book a great read.  I will say that Barely Alive is intended for an older audience--and not the younger young adult set so I won't be sharing this one with my girls.  I'm not a zombie lover--but, I love Paulson's writing style and creative story angles.

Would I recommend Barely Alive by Bonnie R. Paulson?  I read this book as more of a medical thriller than a monster/zombie novel--and I really liked it.  Paulson creates believable characters and develops a clean and well written good vs. evil, life and death battle plot.  I would recommend this for a more mature audience--and not just those who generally read the zombie genre.  While Paulson doesn't leave readers hanging at the end of book one, readers will want to continue on with the Barely Alive series.

Buy Barely Alive by Bonnie R. Paulson on Amazon| Kobo

Learn more about the other books in the Barely Alive Series

Falling Apart (book #2)

Days slip through Paul’s graying fingers. Humanity faces the end. His brother has the virus and is dying, too. Paul’s hopes ride on Heather’s genetic code. Her immunity leaves her unchanged and untouchable. What would she see in the zombie he was becoming anyway? Dominic’s army of infected grows, capturing the south and leaving little alive in its wake. While Paul and his friends work on the vaccine, protecting the north becomes protecting the world. Heather is taken hostage and Paul races toward Dominic to save his heart. With his time “alive” shortened, Paul must do more than protect the uninfected. He has to get his brother and Heather back to Sandpoint before the zombies find them. Paul needs to survive the upcoming war before he finds himself defecting to the other side and leaving Heather to Dominic’s mercy. He has three days to get the cure or he might as well find a fire to call home. *This has mature themes and language. Not for young or pre-teens.*

Buy on Amazon | Kobo

Mostly Dead (book #3)

Time is running out and Paul’s original wish for death looms. As his skin grays and hunger becomes uncontrollable, the world burns. Heather and Paul have fallen for each other, but with life and death barricading them apart, and the potential cure disappearing into time, they have no hope. Paul’s hunger is all-consuming. He has to walk into the flames, join Dominic, or eat everyone he loves. Can he save anyone, if not himself?

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Viral Intent (Prequel short)

Dominic has no remorse, no guilt, and his righteous justification swells as his research goes unchecked. There’s someone Dominic wants to save, and he may have the cure. But now he needs test subjects. He creates a virus that brings about the zombie apocalypse. There’s no excuse for how he treats Paul and humanity itself, but understanding the man might shed light on the evolution of the virus that brings Paul and Heather together. Discover the how and why behind Dominic’s evil actions. Are you brave enough to see how a Zombie Master is born?

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Meet the Author

Bonnie R. Paulson mixes her science and medical background with reality and possibilities to make even myths seem likely and give every romance the genetic strength to survive. Bonnie has discovered a dark and twisty turn in her writing that she hopes you enjoy as much as she has enjoyed uncovering it. Dirt biking with her family in the Northwest keeps her sane.

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Zombie Apocalypse survival kit in a sardine can
A zombie hunting permit bumper sticker (for the state you live in)
The Zombie Survival Guide Manual
Emergency Mylar Blanket.
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