Sunday, August 26, 2012

Series Two: Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer, Dying Days and Dying Days Two by Armand Rosamilia
Zombie Apocalypse: Zombies, Ghouls and Gods Reborn
Reviewed by Anthony Servante

“I'm trying to introduce you and me in the stories, people who aren't super-human, military elite or any other cliché characters that fill most zombie and horror books. I want the reader to have something in common and understand each character.”
Armand Rosamilia

Armand Rosamilia

It is time to discuss another series from our Zombie Apocalypse authors and examine the manner that this writer furthers the evolution of the genre of the undead. George Romero used the zombie as an allusion for man’s materialistic leanings, opting for a hoard of possessions over becoming a useful member of society. As such, in a lawless society, man’s dual nature is put to the test: will he choose personal wealth and power or promote the rebuilding of society and take control of the chaos brought on by the living dead? Armand Rosamilia focuses his narrative microscope on his characters and the actions they take, the decisions they make, and the rewards and sorrows that follow making such decisions. Let’s begin with Darlene Bobich: Zombie Killer, the prelude to Dying Days, the origin of our heroine.

Dying Days Prequel

Darlene Bobich is a study in decision-making and the unpredictability of its results. Rosamilia wants us to look at the humans and how they react to tough situations. Right off, Darlene kills her infected father. She decided it had to be done and executed the need without hesitation; ironically it was her father who taught her to make the tough choices and live without regret. She then proceeds to kill her neighbor, already turned, as he feasts on his wife in the yard of their suburban home; she promptly kills the victim before she can turn as well. It may seem cold-hearted, but it is merely calculated. To kill her neighbors reduces the zombie hordes by two. It lessens the danger of chaotic situations. Simple as that.

Thus, the zombies are written to provide these situations with an extended threat new to the zombie genre. Rosamilia’s zombies have engorged tongues and penises and use them to assault their victims sexually while tearing them apart. I think back to The ZA Part One (, where I considered the possibility that the undead were creatures of habit, eating the flesh of the living a warped sense of social interaction between fried neural synapses and wired nerve endings firing non-stop from fear and adrenaline. The zombie does not seek nourishment. It follows a neural loop that says eat, interact with people, and show restraint, the cornerstone of civilization; only the memories are all fused together. Eating cannot be distinguished from socializing, and dining with somebody is jumbled with dining on your dinner (it becomes dining on your date). But we’ve limited the debate to eating and communicating, worthy endeavors for a sardonic look man’s excesses. In Darlene Bobich some in the zombie hordes are horny. Some want to eat, some want to rape. This mix adds suspense to the proceedings as you don’t know if the zombie lurching for you wants to eat a hole in you or fill one. And I don’t remember if it were made clear if the satyr-zombies can infect a victim via rape.

But our author does not ignore the human characters and their carnal foibles. Sam, Darlene’s one friend, is cornered with our heroine in a library, surrounded by thousands of “extreme” zombies; well, good old Sam wants to have sex with Darlene as their final act of humanity before they get sodomized and/or eaten by the undead masses. Even as death is upon them, she must decide how to deal with her good friend’s advances in the middle of an undead frenzy. Her choice determines her survival. She has become an instinctual creature who acts on feeling more than consideration. This foreshadows her psychic ability in Dying Days Two.  Earlier a bad decision led her to a gang-rapist red-neck militia. A good decision cost her friend, Jonathan, his life. These humans are still trying to act civilized, but the troubles keep coming and forcing them to make quick decisions no matter what the cost. In a sad scene that seems mimetic for the whole situation with the undead and human animals pairing off with the living and the human beings, Darlene is promoted to Death Squad from Rear Watch, the tail end of the guards that protect the exodus of people looking for a paradise; when it is decided that an old man is too sick to survive more than three days, and needs to be executed. This bad decision cost needless loss of life. They can’t point to the zombies anymore; they begin to blame each other.

Although Darlene likes to find shelter with other survivors of the zombie infestation, she often ends up alone. Her tragic flaw is that her need for human contact keeps getting her in trouble. She befriends the guy across from the library shelter where she lives. Without getting into too many specifics, Darlene keeps taking that path paved with good intentions just before being reminded that the same path leads to bad outcomes. Her need for human contact cost a stranger she was attracted to his life. And with each hard decision she makes, her shell grows thicker. It’s an odd cycle. Find a friend, abandon friend before he abandons you even though you’re not even sure if he was going to abandon you; go back to him, and someone gets killed. No kiss and make-up here. No kissing your boo-boo. Just keep trying to decide the right thing, even as no one has figured out that any decision leads to tragedy. And with this lesson learned Darlene hits the road again.

Dying Days picks up the prequel story with Darlene on the road being bushwhacked by a depraved survivor. Again it’s the humans and their unrestrained foibles set loose in a lawless time. Rosamilia writes: “Most of the property damage she’d encountered since this had begun was man-made, with looting, raping and fires done without the zombies’ help. Man had turned on man. Instead of helping one another they’d decided to kill for that last scrap of food. Safety in numbers? Not if it meant having to share a can of soup. It was easier to bash your former friend and neighbor in the head with the can rather than sharing it.” Darlene survives and makes her share of mistakes but maintains a sense of normalcy with which the readers can identify. Don’t come looking for Resident Evil’s Alice or Underworld’s Selene, so don’t expect tight outfits and martial arts. Though you do get your share of nudity and gore, which is requisite for the genre, but we’re just tagging along with Darlene as she witnesses humanity turning animalistic, but finding pockets of humanity.

It is the little poignant observations that she picks up on that add credence to the storyline. Sure there are zombies and gruesome moments, but Rosamilia has a way of splicing the mundane with the extreme. You get a tear in your eye while you’re gagging down the bile. This is one of those moments: “Darlene’s reality was even more disturbing: blue, clear skies, the smell of the beach, the sound of the pounding surf, and the undead. The waves were strong today, slapping against a horrific sight: a whale, half submerged in the surf, was being eviscerated by a group of zombies. Darlene nearly puked when she saw one of them trying to ejaculate on the dead, bloated creature as other zombies pulled off chunks of flesh. The scene was surreal; gulls fought with the zombies for pieces. She wasn’t surprised when one of the gulls got too close and his head was promptly bitten off.” It’s an idyllic scene with a gory twist, as seen through the eyes of a young woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But she walks the edge, neither breaking down nor giving in: “Darlene noticed her hand was shaking. Her nerves were shot and she wondered for the hundredth times today whether all of this was worth it or not. She was physically and mentally exhausted, each day another trial and tribulation.Darlene tossed the cell phone around in her hand and laughed. It was funny what people still clung to, even when they were of no practical use. She reached into her pocket and fingered her keychain. Her house key, her car key and the key to her dad’s house were there, all useless. Yet she had them with her at all times.”

Part of the reason Darlene maintains her balance is the people she meets on the road. For every attack there’s a moment of normal living. She cooks a meal for her host after a daring rescue. She has the hots for her host’s son even amid the zombie infestation (it sounds corny but Rosamilia makes it work). It is with these little interludes where she feels that she might have a chance at a civilized world again that we enjoy Dying Days best. Here the narrator tells us, “For the first time in months Darlene had a task besides finding food, shelter, and trying not to get killed. She dropped to her hands and knees in front of the counter and began to wash the floor, one inch at a time.” She finds the simple act of cleaning up a moment away from the apocalypse outside. A basic task such as cleaning the floor gives the reader something to identify with. And that’s what makes her different from the killer babe one might expect to find in an end of the world scenario. Although the sexual tension between Darlene and a female and male character may contribute a touch of the soap opera to the proceeding, it is Rosamilia’s way to take a pause between zombie attacks. Please note that Dying Days ends on a cliffhanger.

In Dying Days Two, however, the zombie action starts the third book in the series off with some gruesome violence and suspense. We are caught up with the cliffhanger ending of Dying Days and the Sons of the New Patriots militia, with whom Darlene Bobich has a history and a vendetta to settle. And a new element is introduced to the extreme undead: Are they starting to learn?

The normalcy that we see through Darlene’s point of view returns as she and her new friends rebuild the ramparts shattered by the latest wave of the recently deceased from a nearby “safe city” that was overrun. We also learn more about St. Augustine, the character Azrael, and get that big lesbian scene our author only hinted at in the previous book. Many more characters are introduced, and the human drama continues. And what of the mysterious bite that Bobich sustained in the prequel? Well, she can now sense the zombies at a psychic level. Since this is the most recent book, I want to minimize my critique of the events that the previous two books led up to. I’ll take it as a given that most of my readers have at least read one of the first two in the series. If not, I recommend you start with Darlene Bobich, the Prequel, then Dying Days, and lastly Dying Days Two.

I’ve pretty much summed up the structure of the storyline and the development of the Bobich character. I won’t surmise on how many more books we can expect from Armand; I mean, hell, I’m still waiting for the other three Star Wars movies we were promised. So, just be happy that the series so far is worth a read and well worth following. Although there are many characters, it is an easy story to follow because all the characters revolve around Darlene, and she is such a three-dimensional character that she has carried the series so far. But as I said, don’t expect Bobich, Super Babe. Instead, expect an exciting time in a Zombie Apocalypse with a fragile but combative young girl trying to cope with a new mankind on the verge of extinction. A grand mix of gore and grace. I look forward to more in the Darlene Bobich Series. I’m sorry, I mean the Dying Days Series…

For more information about buying the Dying Days Series and reading more on the author Armand Rosamilia, please visit his website:

Thank you, readers, for joining us for the second of three of the Zombie Apocalypse series. Look next for the Caldecott Chronicles by R.G. Bullet. 

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