Book Review: World Departed

World Departed by Sarah Lyons Fleming

🌺🌺🌺🌺🌺/5

Trigger Warning: graphic death, drug abuse

The night before her twentieth anniversary, Rose Winters catches her husband using. Again. It’s the last straw, but she’s got a party to plan, kids to feed and now…a zombie apocalypse happening right at her doorstep. And a missing husband. Rose has a lot to deal with, and it’s only just getting started. Because the zombies aren’t going away anytime soon.

The fact that people fled, didn’t listen to reports to stay inside, is why we’re in this mess. They left, they were bitten, and now California is crawling with zombies.

Whew. I knew that this was going to be intense, and reading a book on the zombie apocalypse during a pandemic probably wasn’t the best idea, particularly since there were an alarming amount of similarities in how the two were handled and how they got so out of hand (minus, you know, the zombies).

I also knew that the points of view that were going to be followed would make me fall in love with the characters, particularly based on the previous two trilogies (all set in the same universe) and I wasn’t *quite* wrong.

I refuse to think of how a forty-two-year-old woman singing at the top of her lungs might look to other drivers. It’s better than therapy, and everyone knows you’re invisible in your own car.

While I liked Rose and her various neuroses, I felt like she was an author-inserted character. I’m probably wrong, but a lot just felt…weirdly specific? I dunno. But she was funny, and I really, truly felt for her, particularly with her fucked up relationship with her husband (damn he was awful). Being married to a drug abuser means that you’re in a relationship with two people—the person you originally fell in love with an occasionally still see glimmers of, and the drug addiction.

I also liked Tom and Craig, although I felt like I didn’t get to see as much of Clara on-page as I would have liked, and much of her page-time was devoted to either Holly or Tom and not much of her own development as a person.

Craig was probably my most-favorite main character, although he was easily my least favorite character at the beginning of the book. His development skyrocketed, and while I was a little irked that he was saved because of the stuff his dad taught him, I did like that he still never really forgave his dad for being an abusive asshole because fuck that stuff. And I loved the crew that he fell in line with, and how they all boosted him up and made him part of the team. Troy, Daisy, Lana and Francis were wonderful, and the bro boys actually grew on me.

Anywho, this was Fleming’s most inclusive book, as she had a diverse cast of characters, and a lot of LGBTQIAP+ rep (and none of them died! Yes!), plus one of the main characters was aro ace, which was so nice to see represented.

However, it’s the secondary characters and the relationships that I loved. And I hate falling in love with them, because in this zombie-filled world you can never get too comfortable, and you just know that your most beloved character is going to die.

“Whoever designed Eugene should’ve been taken out back and shot.”
I’ve had that thought many times. In Eugene, streets end and don’t go through. They curve and dog-leg without notice, as if modeled on the aerial view of a toddler’s scribbling.

But what really elevated this book from a solid four star read to five stars was that it took place in my (kinda) home town and more importantly, it made sense. Fleming captured the feel and spirit of Eugene so fucking well, and her descriptions of the rest of the state were *chef’s kiss*. I’m tickled that she called out the unfortunately named town of Drain, which is super duper close to where I actually grew up.

Everyone goes on and on about how pretty Oregon is, but the ride from Eugene to Portland is like the road from Purgatory to Hell. Except for the eight seconds when it’s not raining and you can see distant mountains.

Now I’m homesick.

So thanks for that, I guess?

Mild spoiler: No one dies of dysentery. Zombies, yes. Dysentery, no.

Anywho, the book ends on a massive holy shit moment, but not as holy shit as the previous other books? Book 2 is going to be intense.

2021 can’t come soon enough.

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