Book Review: Kellie’s Diary #4, Thomas Jenner & Angeline Perkins (2014)

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Party over, oops out of time!

four out of five stars

(Caution: minor spoilers ahead!)

The fourth installment in an ongoing series (Parts 1 through 3 are available both individually and collected in Kellie’s Diary: Decay of Innocence; Part 1 is free on Amazon), Kellie’s Diary #4 picks up nearly four years after where Part 3 left off. The date is April 6, 1999, and Kellie – just nine years old when we first found her – is a more mature 15 (and a half! Teenagers know how important those fractions are!) In a surprising twist, she, Lydia, Sarah, and Dan are still living with the train people; given Sarah and Dan’s suspicions about leader Mark, I thought for sure that the groups would have parted ways within days or weeks of meeting. While Lydia helps to grow food in the on-board garden, Kellie accompanies the salvage teams as a scout.

It’s on a mission on the outskirts of Los Angeles, in Highland, that things go terribly wrong. The town isn’t just empty of supplies, but seemingly abandoned, and long since. And yet, Kellie and Sarah feel eyes watching silently as they search house after house. Their suspicions are confirmed when, on their second day of scavenging, a group of heavily armed men attempt to hijack the train and steal their provisions. In a horrific scene that floods Kellie’s head with memories of Dr. Crane, one of the thieves shows a little too much interest in young Lydia. It’s in this moment that things really go south.

Though half of the train community manages to escape, a more insidious threat lurks from within in the form of Pastor Paul. A creepy, End Times fundie type, Paul hatches a plot to infect the entire community with zombieosis, thus speeding along “God’s Plan” and delivering everyone to the next world. Luckily, Kellie and Lydia manage to escape – but find themselves in an abandoned industrial district even creepier than the abandoned town they just left behind. Visions of “Bagman” continue to haunt Kellie, who’s becoming increasingly distrustful of her own senses. One thing she can be sure of: she and Lydia are not alone.

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

Friday, February 7th, 2014

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)

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Book Review: Kellie’s Diary #1, Thomas Jenner & Angeline Perkins (2013)

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Interesting premise, slow start…

three out of five stars

After a brief (and unexplained) stay with her grandfather, Kellie has just returned to her third grade class. Not a day back, and already some of her classmates are falling ill – never to return. At first, everyone assumes it’s “just the flu” – but by week’s end, her entire town has been devoured by zombies.

Kellie is sitting in class one morning when a scary man barges through the window and promptly bites the substitute teacher. Terrified and not a little confused, she hides in the girl’s bathroom until the mayhem subsides. With no other destination in mind, she decides to try and find her way home. Along the way, she dutifully records her journey in her diary (“Barbie”).

(For what it’s worth, Kellie reminds me of a (very!) young Julie Grigio. To wit: “They’re [the zombies] scary, but they look sad too.”)

When I first picked this up, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect: Graphic novel? A narrative book presented in diary format? Or a combination of the two, a sort of faux diary complete with scribbles and drawings and assorted ephemera? As it turns out, the answer is closest to B, and it lends itself well to the Kindle format. The authors use a handwriting font to give the book a handmade feel, and the “diary” is written on lined notebook paper, complete with faint water stains. In contrast to titles that contain visual art, Kellie’s Diary #1 is easy enough to read on the Kindle. There aren’t any real pages, but Kindle tells me that there are 69 locations, if that helps. There are nine chapters, and the diary covers exactly one week in Kellie’s life: January 18 through January 25, 1993. (Crossing my fingers for copious ’90s references down the road!) In any case, the story is rather short; I finished it inside of an hour.

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