April 2, 2012

Bound (Book Review)

 by Nicholas Strange


By Shannon Mayer

Self-Published: 2011


3.5 / 5 zedheads

Shannon Mayer’s Bound, the follow up to Sundered, picks up at the very moment that its predecessor ended—in a world where ninety percent of the population has been turned into zombie-like fiends as a result of taking a designer drug called Nevermore.

Mara, the heroine of this series, is about to drive a knife into the neck of Sebastian, her now zombie-ish husband, as he is descending upon her, apparently out of control. This cliffhanger moment from the first book left it open that Sebastian might survive the tale, and he does in fact do so; however, this does not mean that Mara and Sebastian are now on an easy road to happily ever after. The world is still emerged in brutal chaos, and now Mara has a new problem—the military types who've intervened to help her deal with Sebastian. Soon, she finds herself their prisoner, forced to help them with their plan for militaristic dominance.

As with most sequels, everything that made the first book work is amplified this time around. In this second novella, the horror keeps coming for Mara in even greater abundance. She is humiliated by her new captors, and she has to witness them brutally murder another woman. They smack her around a little too. The leader, Vince, makes it quite clear that she better help them or not only will he kill Sebastian but he will also cause her to miscarry before shooting and killing her as well. Later on, there are also some chilling moments that involve a birthing of a human baby to a Nevermore woman. On top of these factors, it seems like Mara could be killed at nearly any moment.

The romance elements of the story increase this time, too. When the first book ended, one might have thought that the virus had overtaken Sebastian completely as it has done to everyone else infected. However, Mayer, throughout this tale, wants us as readers to believe that his love for Mara is too strong to be overcome and, subsequently, Mara’s love is also unwilling to give up on him. All of this might be a bit much for hardcore horror fans to take; however, Mayer uses this angle for some interesting tension building. For example, when she meets a leader of another military group who has lost his wife to the Nevermore drug, her relationship serves as an undercurrent of jealousy that threatens her future greatly.

There is also an element of hope injected into this volume that pushes Mara on. Those who imprison her plan to overtake a rival camp that may have a cure. This fact (along with constant physical threats) prompts Mara to help them train the Nevermores as potential soldiers. This training section is actually pretty interesting and features Mara using her position as the mate to the Alpha male in the pack to get them to follow her. There is a really unsettling sex scene in this section between Mara and Sebastian in front of other Nevermores that is rather off-kilter, but it serves as a solid example of the lengths to which a pregnant Mara will go to in the slim hopes of restoring her life.

In the end, Mayer succeeds again with mixing graphic and grim horror with hopeful romance. There are many moments of unrelenting terror that are always tempered by the strong will and cunning of Mara, a protagonist who is now becoming a believable and formidable heroine. As in the first volume, Mayer leaves things dangling in a most precarious position yet again. What kind of baby is she going to give birth to? What will happen to Sebastian? By now Mayer has proven that she is able to deliver the goods on multiple levels, so whatever waits in the next volume, I’m sure it will be both shocking and satisfying, just like Bound and its predecessor.

Guest Reviewer Bio

Nicholas Strange is a life-long fan of horror and the operator of the horror blog Strange Amusements. There, he writes about all kinds of horror in a multitude of mediums—feature films, short films, fiction, television, and comic books. 

By day, Mr. Strange has held a variety of soul-sucking jobs, such as technical writer/editor, marketing director, and human resources manager. In the evenings, though, when he’s not spending time with his wonderful wife and son, he writes horror fiction in various formats and sub-genres, some of which will be released later this year for Kindle and other e-reading devices. To stay up to date with his various horror-related projects, check out www.strangeamusements.com and follow him on Twitter @nicholasstrange.