- Pro Review
- Discovery Awards
By AH Haga
We rarely see disabled characters in survival stories. In the novel SURVIVAL KIT, A. H. Haga aims to remedy this with a wheelchair-bound protagonist determined to live through a zombie apocalypse. The author also wants to talk about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and its terrible effects on the mind and body.
As a zombie horror novel, SURVIVAL KIT is pretty much what you might expect from this subgenre. Civilization is gone. Humanity has mostly been reduced to cruelly pragmatic survivalists and grotesque undead parodies of people. There are also narrow escapes and fatal mistakes. This is quite possibly the biggest flaw within the novel. When writing horror, it is easy to try to increase tensions by describing protagonists making mistakes. They split up when they should stay together or hesitate when they should act. But there is a thin line between characters making believable missteps that humanize them and protagonists who seem incompetent. All too frequently, it feels like the story falls on the wrong side of that line. That severely undercuts the positive example of a disabled person fighting through the end of the world. SURVIVAL KIT is far more compelling when focusing on the challenges of living with Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Haga unflinchingly describes the toll of this illness on the patients and their loved ones. Their struggle continues daily, unceasing and unrelenting as, well, a zombie horde. The most harrowing part of the novel has Kit – Spoilers ahead! – fending for herself alone, with very little hope of meeting another human being. That is a horror far more terrifying than any fictional monster.
For the most part the story felt flat. It wasn’t bad, but neither was it especially memorable. This might be due to its unfortunate timing. One would think that living through an actual worldwide pandemic would make this reader more susceptible to the horrors of a zombie apocalypse. Instead, the real thing is so much more tragic, banal, chaotic, and omnipresent that one loses taste for reading about fictional outbreaks. If you are a fan of zombie horror, check out the SURVIVAL KIT. If not, you can always read the pandemic news updates.
In the horror novel SURVIVAL KIT, A. H. Haga aims to depict a struggle against a terrible real-life illness during the zombie outbreak but is far more successful writing about the former than the latter.
~Danijel Štriga, for IndieReader