The world is succumbing to a zombie infestation, and society is crumbling. It’s every man for himself in Christopher Cole’s post-apocalyptic novel. Through chance meetings, a ragtag team of children and teenagers stick together to fight their way to the only known safe place in the world, Fort Gold Rush. But Sonny and his friends soon have to pick up their arms again as they must undertake training that will equip them with the skills needed to become protectors of their new haven. Out in the wild again, they soon discover that flesh-eating zombies aren’t the only enemies. They must also contend with human predators. In these dark days, it’s a battle on three fronts for these noble kids. They fight zombies, bandits, and the darkness that threatens to consume their hearts.
Author Christopher Cole’s Sanctuary is a unique combination of a dystopian city, in a post-apocalyptic world. It takes readers on a journey through man’s struggles to hang onto hope in the face of mounting adversity. There is hardly anything that is straightforward in this twisted world. Cole reminds us of this fact by posing the philosophical question – what is good and evil?
One of my favorite things about the book is what Cole does with the characters. I didn’t get to know some of the characters’ backstory until I was more than halfway through the book. But by that time, I had already connected with them. Instead of using backstories to evoke a quick connection, Cole invests heavily in the characters’ personalities – flaws and quirks.
The book pushes several emotional buttons. Exploring humanity through a dark lens that doesn’t hold back commentary on the darker problems with society. The dystopian city of Fort Gold Rush provides ample opportunity for readers to see contemporary societal issues magnified to entertaining effect. The author uses detailed imagery to build this gritty world. I must warn you, though, you’ll visualize shimmering sunrise and picturesque landscapes, but you’ll also imagine gory sights like knives thrusting into brains and bullets drilling into flesh. A stimulating combination for the right audience. And if you are a gun enthusiast, the battle scenes are littered with gun mentions you can geek over. Although, having to read through the multiple types of guns everyone carried was a little tiring.
Sanctuary continues the thrilling post-apocalyptic action that fans expect in Christopher Cole’s Dark Days series. With such an intriguing cast of characters, it is fascinating to see where they’ll end up, how they’ll get there, and what price is paid along the way.
Pages: 292 | ASIN: B08L84KY32
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Outbreak is a thrilling zombie apocalypse novel with great action, endearing characters and a strong plot. What were some sources that informed this novels development?
Good stories like The Last of Us, Telltale’s The Walking Dead along with AMC’s version, The Road, etc. Certain survival stories where the main characters developed and changed on their journey through survival and endurance. I was mainly inspired by Neal Shutterman’s book Everlost.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
That my characters would be three dimensional, that the story would be compelling in reflection to the impact on the characters, and it would have some kind of ending where readers can get closure. That I would write a character for readers to root for.
I think this novel delivers some very entertaining scenes. What was the funniest thing about writing this novel?
The funniest thing to me is originally it was gonna end sooner. The big climax near the end wasn’t originally gonna happen but after a friend read it before I submitted it, he told me it needed something more. Ironically, adding more was what delivered a big climactic ending.
What story are you currently writing and when will it be available?
I’m currently writing Book 3 of the Dark Days Series and I’m co-writing another book called Rising Up. I don’t know when they will be released.
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Christopher Cole’s Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book one) is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller with an endearing cast of characters, and enough action to keep you hanging off the edge of your seat.
The plot follows child-protagonist ‘Sonny’ and his two best friends, Carrie and Ashley. After being separated from their families, the three kids are soon plunged into catastrophe. Ill-prepared and barely 11 years old, the children must learn to look after themselves in a world where roaming hordes of ‘infected’ zombies are the new normal. The plot centers around young Sonny’s early passage into adulthood; how he must ‘grow up fast’ to protect those he loves the most, and the effect this has on his psyche.
Christopher Cole creates meaningful bonds between Sonny, Carrie, Ashley, and every other character the three children encounter along their journey. What’s more impressive is that Cole manages to do so in a short story that runs thick-and-fast with tense moments and brutal action. Sonny treasures his relationships and it’s these friendships that provide some of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the book, whilst also giving weight to the tough life-and-death decisions that Sonny must make. Cole also manages to create tension and action cinematically throughout this novel. Take Sonny’s face-to-face encounter with a zombie, his simple imagery, coupled with Sonny’s narrative commentary, provide a matter-of-fact description that leaves tension building up to the reader’s imagination.
Outbreak delivers value on its themes of martyrdom, personal growth, and loyalty. The consequence of Sonny’s decisions is something that is alluded to, but not built upon as much as I would have hoped. Overall, though, this is a really good, easy-to-read, post-apocalyptic thriller with great action, endearing characters and a strong plot.
Pages: 212 | ASIN: B08GBMF3LG
Tags: action, author, book, book recommendations, book review, book reviews, book shelf, bookblogger, books, books to read, Christopher Cole, dystopia, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, Outbreak (The Dark Days Series Book 1), post apocalyptic, read, reader, reading, science fiction, scifi, story, suspense, thriller, writer, writing, zombie
Sanctuary follows Sonny to a militarized city where he’s conscripted into the city’s guard. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that was different from book one?
Some ideas I wanted in my book were things like showing humanity and compassion towards others. Like how Sonny agreed to pretend to be Clara’s son Nathan or sparing a bandits life. Other ideas were defending their home by training the next generation for thinking ahead. The first book was mainly about survival while the second book was about finding a sanctuary and protecting it and its people inside.
I enjoyed the contrast between the sanctuary and the outside world. Was this dichotomy intentional or incidental to the story you wanted to tell?
It was completely intentional. In a dystopian world, it brings out the worst in people. So, it would make sense that certain people would be desperate for protection and supplies to stay alive. So much so that they would be willing to slaughter innocent people for it.
I thought this story had a unique setup and an interesting premise. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
I was inspired by many other stories such as The Walking Dead, The Road, The Last of Us, etc. These stories helped give me an idea of how savage people can be in an apocalyptic world. As for the story, I was inspired by some of Gary Paulsen’s books and Neal Shutterman’s books. Gary Paulsen can make you feel like you’re in the action, especially through the character’s point of view. Neal Shutterman helped me learn that stories can be more interesting if told through different character’s points of view and how their events with the main character’s events collide together can build up excitement.
This is book two in your Dark Days series. What can readers expect in book three?
I’m still developing it, but readers can expect a bigger scale in conflict with forces from the outside world. The Pacific Army is trying to reclaim America by expanding its territory, but with the limited number of soldiers and resources that can take a lot of time and be difficult. The characters are growing up so they can expect romance blossoming among them, some are figuring out their sexual identity. I’ll be developing issues and situations where the characters have to deal with the fact that sometimes there is no right thing to do in a dystopian environment or warzone. I’ll try to set up where they have to draw the line in complicated situations where it’s about right and wrong or it’s about staying alive and keeping your people alive. The main theme of The Dark Days series is about humanity struggling to stay in an apocalyptic world. That can be extremely hard and even impossible at certain times like that. There’s a lot I’m working with, but it’s still in development, so there’s gonna be changes before its release.
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Dark Days- Sanctuary, by Christopher Cole is the second book in his thrilling post-apocalypse book series. The book is set in a dystopian land and follows the story of a few survivors trying to sustain themselves in an undead infested world, but the story is more than survival and bloodshed. Its focus is on the relationship between the characters in the aftermath of death and its implications on the survivors. A group of people, including Sonny and his friends, are trying to find a safe sanctuary, all the while fighting the zombies. They find a safe haven in Fort Gold Rush. The city was built to protect residents from the zombies and predators secured behind walls. The sanctuary has A Good Place vibe to it, but will this blissful state last, or does fate have more adventures for them?
Sonny, our protagonist, is a 12-year-old boy trying to protect his friends and missing his own family while trying to figure out the world around him. The second protagonist is an older adult, Grim, who is on the lookout for someone to pass his knowledge to. The story revolves around the connection between the two. While Sonny is innocent and pure, Grim is cold, callous, but good at heart.
I was able to connect to the character’s point of view and I also loved the message of the story, but I felt that the structure could have been improved with some editing that would remove some of the repeat sentences and keep the story concise.
I still found myself immersed in this emotional story. The characters were intriguing, but I felt that their actions and relationships were black and white, in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world I wanted things to be a bit more grey in areas that would allow the mind to wonder.
This book reminds me of AMC’s The Walking Dead in it’s ability to explore characters in a high stress situation, which is intriguing on its own, but then add in a bit of NBC’s The Good Place and you have a unique zombie apocalypse story the likes of which gives readers plenty to be entertained with.
I would recommend Dark Days- Sanctuary to rabid fans of the zombie apocalypse genre. Readers will find a unique story to get lost in and, with a bit of editing, this could easily be one of the best post-apocalyptic stories I’ve read this year.
Pages: 292 | ASIN: B08L84KY32
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Cities are bombed out ruins and wilderness is humanity’s new home. The undead roam the earth, and the new world order is about the struggle to survive. Sonny Daniels begins an emotional and physical journey of personal survival and protecting those he loves.
While survival is a constant struggle, Sonny’s most desperate fight is the struggle preserve some semblance of a compassionate soul. Sonny and his parents are caught in the zombie outbreak in upstate New York. After the passage of the first year, their base is attacked by bandits and their safety has again been compromised. Fearing for their loved ones, Sonny’s parents send him and his orphaned childhood friends, Ashley and Carrie, to Fort Denver Colorado on a military plane.
When Fort Denver is overrun with zombies, the three are alone in a zombie-infested wasteland without the army’s protection, forced to rely upon one another and a handful of equally desperate survivors they encounter along the journey. Sonny is determined to do whatever it takes to protect Ashley and Carrie while finding a safe place to call home, but survival can force you to make dark decisions.
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Outbreak follows a group of friends trying to find a safe home in a zombie wasteland. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling story?
I think it was a combination of different stories, but the main inspiration for this story is the same inspiration that made me start writing – a book called Everlost by Neal Shusterman. It was an amazing story of this boy and this girl trying to survive in a mysterious limbo world while seeking personal answers. The book pulled me in and I was developing the spark that would later ignite the writer in me. I started writing and re-writing while brainstorming what works and what doesn’t.
Sonny, Ashley and Carrie are all well-developed characters. What were some ideas that guided the groups development and relationship?
I looked and analyzed stories that weren’t just good, but great and why they were great stories. I looked for what made characters likable. Likable characters are ones that readers care about. They want good things for them and feel the intensity when they are in danger. In this dark zombie wasteland, it’s easy to lose humanity and resort to savagery. So, the idea that kids so young are not only fighting for their own survival but are fighting for their humanity. The way it is, if you have something you care about, then fight for it. Just like these three, Sonny, Ashley and Carrie fight for each other.
This novel did a great job of exploring friendships and connections between people. What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Some of the themes that were important to explore in this book were figuring what to let go and what to hold on to. In a way, that’s part of growing up but the dark side in the book is in a zombie wasteland, children have to grow up faster. So, letting go of childish things like the joys of just being a kid for their own survival is something Sonny and the girls had to figure out and decide. The things they hold on to were things like love, friendship, courage, kindness, and the fire that keeps them alive inside are important because in certain environments like this, it’s almost all they have left.
This is book one in your Dark Days series. What can readers expect in book two?
In book two, readers can expect different things and familiar things. Without giving spoilers, the main character Sonny finds someone who has suffered loss in a severe way that most people can’t recover from. He helps her and in a way, it helps him be part of her family.
The first installment of Christopher Cole’s Outbreak: Dark Days series follows Sonny as he finds his preteen world turned upside down at the hands of a mysterious zombie outbreak that has sparked mass, sanctioned evacuations of families and individuals to military-run communes. Little does Sonny know that once his family and friends, neighbors Carrie and Ashley, depart from their New York state homes, their lives are set to change indefinitely as they battle outbreaks and learn tough lessons about growing up.
The flow is fast-paced, while still providing enough visual detail for the reader to follow each event and action. The characters are well-developed, even considering that the main protagonists, Sonny, Carrie, and Ashley, are all middle-school aged. It is easy to empathize with the many internal conflicts they are faced in the midst of difficult decisions, the most extreme being making choices that can lead to life or death. Readers can feel the deep humanity of each child, yet at the same time are gently reminded that all three are children who genuinely do not know everything, nor should be expected to. The bond the children share with each other is just as simple, yet poignant. It is a pleasure to witness the richness of the children’s character development and interpersonal bonds as they traverse through various trials.
The grammatical errors, however, were rampant throughout the book and at times were distracting from the plot and the action. Every couple pages had some kind of punctuation or use error; for instance, “your” when the contraction “you’re” was supposed to be used was a common error. I also saw a few spelling errors, but these were far less interspersed.
I love the plot of Outbreak: Dark Days, the doomsday theme is certainly relevant in 2020, with some elements such as quarantine being very relatable to many at present. In creating a rich range of emotions and thoughts in the trio of children, Cole invites readers to reflect on their sense of humanity and consider their own reactions to the different challenges that Sonny, Carrie, and Ashley encounter throughout the book. I recommend this book for readers of young adult age and up due to the use of adult language.
Pages: 213 | ASIN: B089CHBN2G
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