Tor Nightfire. Feb. 2022. 288p. ISBN 9781250794642. pap. $17.99. HORROR
DEBUT Beth and Fran are in the woods, on the run from monsters—some created by a virus that turns any human with enough testosterone into a zombie-like creature; others from an organized group of women ruled by a violent brand of anti-trans hate. Beth and Fran are not helpless, however. They are skilled hunters, seeking the valuable, estrogen-rich testicles of the infected men to bring back to their friend Indi, a doctor who is distilling E for medicinal purposes. So begins this compelling, fast-paced, and tense postapocalyptic tale of a band of survivors fighting off villains and struggling to find safety, featuring stellar worldbuilding and complex, fully developed characters. The original frame, a testosterone-driven plague, opens the door for Felker-Martin to probe the popular zombie trope while simultaneously centering the experience of trans men and women. The result is a sensual, tender, honest, and inspirational story of imperfect but well-meaning people banding together in an attempt to not only survive but thrive.
VERDICT This novel confidently plants a flag declaring its place among the greatest band-of-survivor zombie tales, right beside thought-provoking, action-packed classics such as The Rising, by Brian Keene, Zone One, by Colson Whitehead, and Mira Grant’s “Newsflesh” series.
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