Every time I buy a 99 cent novel for my Kindle, I prepare myself for an onslaught of hard to digest writing and unbearable characters. Sometimes it’s a chore to get through the first page, but this was not the case with Jaron Lee Knuth’s After Life. Within the first couple pages I already related to the main character and was delightfully surprised with the vivid descriptions of his world.
After Life features geeky and antisocial Alex and his longtime crush/best friend, web cartoonist Morgan. They are not your average zombie novel heroes. They’re your relatively average nerdy folk trying to get along in an undead world. While surviving the apocalypse they meet up with other survivors (and some crazies) and face their feelings for one another.
The plot is straightforward, but that’s okay since the real gold lies in Knuth’s character development. Alex especially is easy to care about and relate to—the nerd in love with the best friend, has inadequacy issues, socially awkward at times, etc.—which allows you to move through the entire novel with constant interest in how things turn out for him. Knuth is crafty; if he wants you to like someone, you do. Feel bad…you do. Oh, and hate someone? Yeah, he can make you hate some characters.
But don’t let all this talk about the heroes and character development deter you from reading! After Life has plenty of wonderfully gory, bloody action scenes that will satisfy any zomboholic. Knuth hits on everything we love about the apocalypse: survival, fighting, and general mayhem.
Readers are often concerned with the technical aspects (grammar, writing, consistency) of the work, which stops them from picking up an indie novel. I found After Life to be refreshingly well written. At no point did I find the need to skip multiple pages, which showed Knuth’s success at pacing the novel and keeping things moving.
I definitely recommend it for any zombie novel fan. I’ve never come across heroes quite like Alex and Morgan, which is good enough reason to give it a try.