What would you do if you one day woke up and everyone was turning into a zombie except for you? This is the question posed to UCLA students Alicia Gaden and Jace Booth in the pages of Living Legacy Among the Dead by R.W.K. Clark. Fortunately, this pair is sufficiently equipped to tackle the job.
The main idea of this particular selection is simple: Two educated young people must wing it to not only survive a zombie apocalypse, but to figure out how to stop it as well. Fortunately, their educations help abundantly in this department, not to mention the fact that fate seems to have lined circumstance up for them so their job will be a bit easier. As a work of fiction, this is a mild horror story that is easy on the gore, with a bit of a love story blended in to make it interesting.
The zombie outbreak takes place as the result of failure on the part of a plastics company in Los Angeles. Toxins are inadvertently released in the waters, and before anyone knows what’s happening, people are becoming zombies. The two main characters, on the other hand, have avoided the water in one way or another, so the responsibility of survival and rectification pretty much falls firmly on their shoulders.
The appearance of success is clear throughout the book, as little things here and there that pretty much make their victory a given. With that being said, Clark has a way of keeping things going right at the very end, and this particular tale is no exception. The eternal question he likes to ask is, ‘Is it really over?’
Alicia Gaden is a biology major who lives on campus at UCLA. Her life is fairly normal: She studies and pays attention to her own plans. Alicia doesn’t have a boyfriend, even finding them to be something of a distraction. She is highly intelligent, and she picks up on the crazy changes going on around her rather quickly, noticing that it isn’t happening overnight.
Jace Booth is majoring in chemistry at the same school. Like Alicia, he is single, but he is very intelligent and good-looking; he could have any girl he wants, but he opts not to. Jace meets Alicia in the library, and after confirming that both of them are still normal, they begin to discuss the crisis going on all around them. Something must be done, or they are going to find themselves getting eaten and joining the masses.
It is a desperate situation for anyone to find themselves in, much less a couple of college kids. But they are a mature pair who knows how to rely on their strengths. RWK Clark plays this up in the simple, yet plausible and effective, explanation for the outbreak, as well as in the simplicity of the solution. Readers will easily be able to keep up with the story without having to trudge through the boring details of unnecessary technicalities.
The entire story takes place in Los Angeles, either at UCLA or nearby; near the middle of the book, the pair comes upon a deserted house, and it is here they take refuge so they can continue their research. The house takes some of the anxiety off the reader; Alicia and Jace aren’t barricaded in a lab somewhere trying to figure things out while zombies beat down the door. The more relaxed atmosphere of the situation allows the reader to slow down and get a firm grasp on the story. The close proximities of all scene locations also contributes to the ease of reading this selection; you don’t have too much to mentally juggle location-wise.
Then, of course, there is the romantic aspects of this particular title. It would be impossible for two young people Alicia’s and Jace’s ages to work together under such strain without mutual attraction taking place. Clark knows this, and takes advantage of the situation. Yes, the couple fall in love, and there are sex scenes in the book. The scenes which are featured are toned down and tasteful, without graphic descriptions and tasteless vulgarity. Actually, this romance makes the book, in its own way. It gives the reader a break from the seriousness of their situation at just the right times, and the scenes don’t overwhelm due to abundance.
Finally, anyone who is familiar with the works of RWK Clark knows how he loves to add a little twist at the end of his books, leaving them open for anything. ‘Living Legacy’ is also an example of that. Since this is actually the first book Clark put out, this flair should be looked upon as groundbreaking for him, but for those who have read other books by this author first, this is commonplace for Clark.
Bringing us to the end, we know where the lives of Jace and Alicia stand by the final pages. What do those pages hint around about regarding the success of Jace and Alicia’s work and research?
Ultimately, ‘Living Legacy: Among the Dead’ is another zombie story, but it has its own unique markings here and there, signifying to whom it belongs. It is very easy to keep up with, and it won’t take forever to get through. Because of the simplicity of his writing, the story is enjoyable, and even funny at times. If approached with the right mindset, this first book by RWK Clark should easily open doors for readers to delve further into what he has to offer. It is a creative story with an ending that isn’t all too horrible to stomach.