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Obsessive Quest

Russ Melrose Author Interview

Russ Melrose Author Interview

Finding AJ follows FBI Agent Jules as she searches for a serial killer through a zombie apocalypse. What were some themes you wanted to carry over from book 1 and what was a new direction you wanted to take in book 2?

The themes were quite different in Jacob’s Odyssey and Finding AJ. While the main theme in Jacob’s Odyssey was centered around Jake’s internal journey, the main theme in Finding AJ was Jules’ obsessive quest to find the serial killer known as the Calligrapher. However there is a common theme that runs through both novels, and that has to do with the incredible beauty of nature that surrounds us, yet the human race seems bent on self-destruction. At one point in Jacob’s Odyssey, Jake comments on how he’s always thought of the mountains surrounding the Salt Lake Valley as being as “eden-like” as any place on earth. There are beautiful descriptions of nature in both novels.

The town of Gideon is one of the last remaining towns in the apocalypse. How did you imagine a town would come together and survive in a time like this?

The only way the people of Gideon, or any other post-apocalyptic setting, could survive is by working together to solve any problems that came up. “Working together” is the key. Gideon had good leaders and the people there were willing to do their part in order to survive.

Jules is a determined FBI agent, but faces some tough decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important to her characters development?

The personal obstacles Jules needed to overcome had to do with her tendency toward being a self-reliant lone wolf. She generally doesn’t connect with or open herself up to others. She has difficulty giving her trust. She doesn’t let anyone in. It isn’t easy for her, but eventually she opens herself up and begins to connect with others. And she has to “trust” someone if she’s going to find the serial killer, and toward the end she finally does.

Will there be a book 3 in the Apocalypse Journeys series and where will that take readers?

There may be a 3rd novel. I’m not sure yet. It depends on how well Finding AJ does. Simple as that. If there is a third novel, it will combine characters from the first two novels. They will be at the underground government complex that is mentioned in Jacob’s Odyssey. This is the same complex where the virus was developed, and there are still experiments going on there. The conspiracy will be revealed, and virtually everyone (Jake, Sarah, Becky, Jules, Caleb, and others) will be in danger. Lukas Melzer will, of course, be there, as well as the new president of the United States. And deep in the complex are a host of grays (zombies), including the alpha called Eve. And don’t be terribly surprised if the Swimmer from Jacob’s Odyssey makes a return. He’s the baddest alpha around. Can’t leave him out.

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Finding AJ (Apocalypse Journeys Book 2) by [Melrose, Russ]The world has fallen apart, the FBI gone, but former Agent Jules Vandevelde won’t stop. She can’t. She’s driven to find the psychopathic serial killer known as the Calligrapher.

Her search leads her to Gideon, Utah, a small town in the southern part of the state. There, amongst the 116 survivors, a serial killer hides in plain sight. There’s only one clue to his identity. Using a scalpel, he inscribes the letters AJ into the abdominal area of his victims–postmortem–in an ancient Chinese text called Tsao, the lettering precise and artistic.

Jules knows the key to finding the Calligrapher lies in discovering the identity of AJ. If she can find AJ, she can find the Calligrapher. But the Calligrapher knows who Jules is. Jules must survive the infected and find the Calligrapher before she becomes his latest victim.

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Jacob’s Odyssey

Jacob's Odyssey5 Stars Jacob’s Odyssey by Russ Melrose is about the beginning days after the Zombie apocalypse has occurred. When you hear Odyssey, most people think of the famous work by Homer detailing Odysseus’s adventures returning to Ithaca after fighting in the Trojan Wars. The more generic definition of odyssey is a long trip filled with notable experiences and challenges. Both of these apply to Jacob in this novel. The novel starts out with Jacob on his way to see his brother Alex. The zombie virus has hit world wide and they have plans to wait out the trouble at their cabin in the woods that they have been prepping for emergencies. Things go bad right from the start, Alex who is a local police officer has contracted the virus. Jacob stays with him through his finial hours praying it’s just the flu. When it’s clear that his brother has turned Jacob starts his transformation with the hard choice of killing his brother. This novel takes you through Jake’s transformation of a passive easy going fifth grade teacher to the killer and hero he becomes.

The beginning chapters, after Jacob realizes he is on his own, detail his plans for escaping from the Salt Lake Valley that has been his home. The story takes place in the Salt Lake Valley neighborhoods. The zombies are everywhere and thanks to barricades and mass exodus of people trying to escape all the roads are blocked with abandoned and crashed vehicles. This makes driving out of the Valley impossible. There is a lot of narrative on Jacob’s mindset and his plans. It can get tedious at times reading though this but it builds up so you understand who Jacob is, and how his transformation in the second half of the book takes place.

Running for your life from zombies can be a lonely experience. Jake is fine with being on his own. He has to survive finding homes that are empty and learn how to avoid the zombies that are learning to hunt in packs, also he encounters an “alpha” that is more human than most zombies, making him more deadly. Jake has a good plan and it works out well for him, right up till he gets a call from Sarah. From there on his solitary journey is now mingled with Sarah, her daughter Becky, and their friend Raj. This is where the book turns from being strictly survival and you go deeper into Jake’s personality, his history, and see his growth. The relationship dynamics between Jake and the other three main characters develops quickly, as they are together less than a week. This is not a romance story but the depth of the relationships parallels the danger they are all in.

Russ Melrose does an excellent job providing the reader with the fear and thought process involved in surviving the zombie virus. He touches on the source of the zombie virus being anything from a terrorist action to an intentional population control action by the government. I didn’t care much for the conspiracy theory Russ interjects but I can see how it pushes the plot along, and leaves the story line open for further books should he choose. Overall Jacob’s Odyssey is a well written novel, original, and has enough action to keep the reader turning pages.

Pages: 308 | ASIN: B00PDED4RY

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