Book Review: Kellie’s Diary: Decay of Innocence, Thomas Jenner & Angeline Perkins (2013)

February 7th, 2014 12:09 pm by Kelly Garbato

Kellie’s Diary Parts 1-3 + Extras

three out of five stars

(Caution: Minor spoilers ahead! Also, trigger warning for rape.)

After a brief stay with her grandfather in Oregon, nine-year-old Kellie has just been reunited with her family in Austin, Texas when all hell breaks loose. The dead begin rising, only to feast on the living – and poor Kellie finds herself all alone. Well, almost. As she traverses the West Coast in search of her parents and two younger sisters, her diary “Barbie” proves a constant and dependable companion. In between Barbie’s covers, Kellie documents the horrors she witnesses.

Currently the Kellie’s Diary series spans four books, with parts 1 through 3 collected in Kellie’s Diary: Decay of Innocence. There are also a few “extras,” including a preview of a related upcoming series, Survival Chronicles:

Kellie’s Diary, Part 1 – The dead begin rising right in the middle of Kellie’s third-grade class. When a seemingly deranged man bursts through the classroom window and mauls the substitute teacher, Kellie flees into the bathroom. Once the chaos subsides, she makes the long and terrifying trek back to her home – only to find it empty. (January 18 through January 25, 1993)

Kellie’s Diary, Part 2 – A year older and an apocalypse wiser, Kellie has spent months researching and planning a journey (back) to her grandfather’s farm, where she believes she might find her parents and sisters. In California, her plans are thrown into disarray when she crosses paths with the evil Dr. Crane. Aided by a horde of zombies, Kellie manages to escape her captor – only to stumble onto a camp of survivors (and into the sights of their rifles). (December 4, 1993 through January 9, 1994)

Kellie’s Diary, Part 3 – Reunited with her younger sister, Lydia, Kellie has all but resigned herself to the fact that the rest of her family is dead. She and Lydia live a (mostly) peaceful existence in the camp, where they’re cared for by Sarah, an adoptive mother of sorts. Haunted by memories of Dr. Crane in the form of “Bag Man,” the walking dead remain a constant – if sometimes underappreciated – threat. That is, until the day they finally manage to breach the camp’s defenses. Along with a few other refugees from the camp, the girls go on the run, only to find themselves aboard a train-bound community. While the citizens appear self-sufficient and welcoming enough, not everything is as it seems. For starters, why did two of its scavengers try to abduct Kellie and Lydia? (June 17 through ~June 22, 1995)

Sarah’s Despair – The beginning of the end as told from Sarah’s perspective. Also an Austin native, we learn how Sarah discovered Lydia and hitched up with the other founders of the California camp.

Dr. Crane – This extra introduces us to Kellie’s tormentor, child psychiatrist-turned-sadist Dr. Crane. In what feels like one coincidence too many, we first meet Crane at the California camp, where he’s just imprisoned, tortured, and killed two of the resident children. As the search party closes in on his trailer, Crane flees; ultimately he hitches a ride with an unsuspecting couple, landing at the mall in Junction where he’ll later meet Kellie. Those unfortunate enough to encounter Crane become part of his sick experiments (the “rebuilding process”), which involve torturing survivors of the zombie plague in order to “cleave the weak.” Thankfully, this short story doesn’t elaborate on how Crane “tested” Kellie (though rape is heavily suggested in Parts 2 and 3).

The Downfall: Survival Chronicles #1 – This is a short look at a new series of “survival horror” that’s only tangentially related to Kellie’s Diary (in that they take place in the same universe). 18-year-old Brandon Williams is a down-on-his-luck orphan working a crappy construction job in order to support his 13-year-old sister Danielle. He’s on the job in Dallas when the apocalypse comes a-knockin’. On his way home to his sister, Brandon is bit and infected; he begins to turn right there on his front steps. And then…blackness. Brandon dies, but wakes up in a lab reborn. Neither human nor zombie, but something new. Do you remember the day you died?

Although the first installment of Kellie’s Diary starts out rather slow, the action does pick up as the story progresses. The plot also becomes a bit darker – though not quite as bleak as I’d expected, based on some of the other reviews. (Rape is a common theme in dystopian fiction, and thankfully Kellie’s assault at the hands of Dr. Crane is alluded to rather than described in detail.)

While the authors approach the zombie genre using a unique perspective (through the eyes of a young girl) and format (a diary), there’s not a whole lot here to distinguish the plot from other zombie stories. (In particular, the debate abOut whether or not the camp’s children should be armed reminded me of similar arguments on The Walking Dead, with Sarah standing in as Kellie’s Diary’s Carol; and the setting is evocative of Rhiannon Frater’s The First Days: As the World Dies.)

It’s a readable enough story, and I plan on downloading Part 4 if only to find out how things go sideways with the train people (as they inevitably will), but I probably won’t keep up after that. My book pile’s already too big as it is.

Something else to note: while the individual installments are presented in a handwriting font, complete with faux college-ruled, water-stained notebook pages, the collection looks more like a regular book, complete with a less flowery font. What the collection lacks in charm and authenticity it more than makes up for in readability: this format is much easier on the eyes.

Vaguely reminiscent of Warm Bodies, The Downfall: Survival Chronicles #1 looks promising as well (though I could do without all the gendered slurs – that is, unless we’re supposed to dislike Brandon, in which case have at it!); I guess we’ll have to see where it goes from here.

3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 on Amazon. While an improvement over Part 1, I still feel like the series could use a little extra something to set it apart from the thousands of other zombie stories out there.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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One Response to “Book Review: Kellie’s Diary: Decay of Innocence, Thomas Jenner & Angeline Perkins (2013)”

  1. fuck yeah reading: 2014 books » vegan daemon Says:

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