The World Without Crows, by Ben Lyle Bedard


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I think the most interesting parts of zombie novels are the origin stories. Was it a virus, radiation, or an unfounded allegory to how “kids these days” spend too much time on their phone? Whatever the origin story, the point is that they’re all different. That includes all the different variations of the above mentioned. 

In The World Without Crows, it was a viral worm. You had regular zombies and cracked zombies…there were several tiny nuances that set these zombies apart from others. Interestingly enough, the zombies are merely the backdrop of the narrative. The story itself follows a young man named Eric on his quest to reach an island in Maine. While zombies are certainly a huge concern, Eric’s real challenges come from the living and the self. 

I think the fact that this wasn’t just a “survive the zombies” type novel. There were roving gangs, bad decisions, and some pretty shady people along the way. There was no centralized military trying to evacuate and round people up. 

A big theme of this novel was a journey of self-discovery. Watching Eric’s development from beginning to end is not only wild, but mildly heartbreaking. There’s many metaphors placed throughout that give the reader a pretty good indication of how he’s coming along as a character, but there’s one classic scene at the end that really sums it up. 

There’s a variety of different people Eric meets along the way. They’re all an incredible mixture of good, bad, and ambiguous. Each of the encounters is designed to further along Eric’s development, for better or worse. Like most people, there’s so many ups and downs it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes. 

The overall writing style was fitting. I liked how well-blended the dialogue and narration were. The description was the best kind of horrifically gory. The kind that’s difficult to illustrate with writing. It had its suspenseful moments, its thriller moments, and its gory moments. Not scary, but definitely on par with expectations of horror enthusiasts. The inclusion of more than just the “token” POC was nice as well. There was a bit more diversity featured here that doesn’t fit with classic horror stereotypes. 

Waging a war of moral versus immoral, where both sides become gray areas is an interesting thing. Decision making in the apocalypse isn’t easy, and it changes a person. This was a pretty intense journey of the self, with one crazy zombie background. Well done. 

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