4.5 starsA little disclaimer here – I am not a fan of zombie books. I do not actively seek them out. I’m squeamish. I tend to shy away from undead creatures that are afflicted with rotting body parts. (Why is it that their teeth seem to never fall out?) Zombies are not, and never could be, as seductive as vampires. Zombies just don’t have the muscular physique of the average were. Zombies just aren’t attractive – and definitely not sexy.Imagine my surprise when I decided that I liked this book. Yes, it does have that Eww!!! Factor, but I could live with that. The story drew me in.Aftertime takes place in California some time after wars, bioterrorism, plagues, nuclear bombs and other nastiness. The author doesn’t really go into too much detail aside from the world’s food sources were destroyed by bioterrorism. The population needed to eat something so a plant called Kaysev was developed. The unfortunate souls who ate the blue Kaysev plant soon became infected with some sort of Zombism and those zombies are now called Beaters. They run around all over the place terrorizing the humans that remain. Government is gone. Lawlessness gives rise to all sorts of fringe groups and new types of societies. You have your survivalists, the loners that refuse to leave their highly fortified homes. The Rebuilders are a scary militia group. The Resistance is a secretive group made up of regular people who want to live in peace. There is also a quasi-religious cult with some pretty freaky customs.I liked the main characters, Cass and Smoke. Both characters are flawed, bringing a lot of baggage from their lives before. Cass was a real survivor. Her background is a little sad. Abused as a teen, she suffered from addiction problems which resulted in the loss of custody of her child. Throughout the entire book, Cass remained focused on reuniting with her daughter. In her previous life, Cass was an outsider – she had few friends. I was surprised how easily she made friends and supporters in the aftertime.Smoke’s character was a little more mysterious. I loved how he took Cass under his wing, protecting her on her quest to find Ruthie. He is a natural leader. I hope that we get to learn more about him in the next book.One of the things that struck me about this book is its message of hope. Even though the situation seemed dire, there were signs of hope – a small sequoia seedling showing that the earth was healing itself. Some people were developing immunity to the zombie infection, another sign of hope. The series continues with a novella – Survivors and the next book Rebirth.Check out my review on Badass Book Reviews.Update: May 23, 2012 - Aftertime is now on the Badass Book Reviews' Best Zombie Book List. Check it out!