The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Z Plan: Blood on the Sand

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Z Plan: Blood on the Sand

A Book of the Week Review by Jocelyn

 Z Plan: Blood on the Sand by Mikhail Lerma 

This week’s read is a quickie, and your Hardcover Honey does enjoy a quickie from time to time! I tend to skim a bit more than I should when reading on my Kindle, which is why I genuinely prefer actual real paper books. That being said, sometimes authors are kind enough to share their works with me digitally, and when author Mikhail Lerma sent me his book Z Plan: Blood on the Sand, I took the time to sit down and read it in one afternoon on my couch. Did you know they make such a thing as a heated blanket that you can curl up under and read? Well, they do, and it’s flipping amazing.

As my son played some probably inappropriate video game downstairs, I found myself lost in the story of Cale, a soldier six months into his deployment in Iraq, missing his baby girl and wife, but otherwise staying busy. Cale is demonstrably a nice guy – Lerma even throws in a scene of an Army nurse, Libby, hitting on Cale and him deflecting, in case you have any doubts.  Cale works hard in the Army, but has time for fun too with his cohort Zach, playing lots of Halo and keeping an eye on things at the base and surrounding area. When the zombie apocalypse breaks out, it starts first as reports of a mysterious sickness in Africa, but quickly reaches the base, where things go to shit rapidly. Poor Libby, it’s not bad enough that Cale rejected her advances - her story comes to a quick and violent end too! This was my favorite part of the book – Lerma is a former National Guardsman himself, and it shows. Although he leans a little hard on the Army acronyms, I felt the dusty sweaty confusion of the base as soldiers died, reanimated and started chomping on their former friends, all while higher-ups are trying to keep order. One of my favorite parts of World War Z was the section taking place at a military facility, and this had much of the same panicked, claustrophobic feel to it. It was great to not have people holed up in a mall for once – in fact, there’s nary a mall to be found in the book, so bonus points for creativity!

As the shit hits the fan, Cale and Zach manage to escape the base in a tank – side note, if you’re ever on the run from zombies, a tank definitely comes in handy. With them is fellow soldier Cacy, who has been bitten and is not long for this world. Cacy serves as the example of how long you can live after you’ve been bitten (spoiler alert, not that long!) and shortly the story hones in on just Cale and Zach. Their plan is simple – make their way to the western coast of Europe, find a boat, and make it back to America where they hope to find their families.

I was rooting for Cale and Zach, but I was frustrated at some of their choices. Finding a house to take shelter in, they make the dumbest decision that anybody in any zombie story anywhere can make – that’s right, they decide to SPLIT UP. Even the stoner in Cabin in the Woods knew that was a bad idea! Of course, Zach gets bitten so that Cale has additional guilt to carry on the rest of his journey. I had trouble with these chapters – I felt bad for Cale for losing his wingman – but not bad enough to forget that it was ALL THEIR FAULT.

Cale’s travels take him towards the ocean and to his credit, he does find his way. His Army training and ability to read maps come in handy. I, sadly, would be instant zombie snack as I don’t function well without my phone GPS. And that’s on a daily non-apocalyptic basis! Cale finds a boat and even manages to rescue some scared kids. Their story didn’t go the way I thought it would, so again I have to give credit to Lerma for keeping me guessing.

It’s clear before reading that Z Plan is the first in a series, so I knew it would end in a cliffhanger, and it did. The best recommendation of a book like this is an intention to read the sequel – I personally will be following Cale in his next chapter – and I hope you like this one enough to join me!

Hardcover Honey verdict: 3.5 out of 5 dusty zombies