James Phelan, 2011, Hachette Australia
Twelve days after the missiles fell, pursued by predatory Chasers, menaced by mysterious military personnel, Jesse finds unexpected friendship in three other survivors: Felicity, a girl he meets via home video; Rachel, more concerned with the animals in her care than with people; and Caleb - angry, disillusioned, and maybe even dangerous. But friendship comes at a price in a world where nothing can be relied upon. Will Jesse's new mates really stick by him if he decides to flee New York City...or is he destined always to be alone?
Survivor is, of course, the sequel to the highly-successful YA infected-zombie tale Chasers, and like its predecessor, it's an absolute cracker. With the appearance of other survivors comes a raising of the stakes, not least in the face of an incursion by local military forces that may not have the interests of our protagonists at heart. Phelan successfully alternates moments of beautifully-crafted creepiness with those of adrenalin-pumping action and violence, and his characters are all sufficiently empathic to drag the reader - unwillingly, perhaps - along for the ride.
While the Chasers/zombies play second-fiddle to other hazards in Survivor, this is nonetheless a zompocalyptic tale to stand with the best of them. The proof of the pudding, for me, is that - again, like its predecessor - Survivors will be included in the Australian Government's Get Reading! - 50 Books You Can't Put Down campaign for the coming year.
In short, Survivors is a brilliant read that will leave you hungry for the third installment of the Alone trilogy, due out later this year.