Review: Closed Campus by Gayle Katz

Flesh-eating zombies on campus. A virus gone wild. Does one college freshman stand a chance against the undead?

Shy co-ed Jane looks forward to her isolated night shifts at the school radio station. It’s the only place she can escape the bullies and quiet her anxiety. When rumors spread of a viral epidemic ripping through the wintery campus, she’s happy to be safe in the snug studio. But after communications go down and the infected break into the station, her peace turns into panic.

Fearing for her life, Jane’s only path of escape runs through the dark, snow-covered campus. But it may be too late to escape the gaping jaws of the walking dead. Does Jane have the grit to fight off the zombies and outrun the apocalypse, or will flesh-eating terrors teach her a deadly final lesson?

Closed Campus is the first installment in the Jane Zombie Chronicles, a series of young adult horror novels. If you like feisty female heroines, spine-chilling undead, and pulse-pounding action, then you’ll love Gayle Katz’s post-apocalyptic novel.

Closed Campus by Gayle Katz. Book # 1 in the series Jane Zombie Chronicles. Kindle edition, published by In Your Face Publishers, May 2018. 131 pages.

Ok. So, I hate starting out a review like this, but….. YOWIE WOWIE! D: Closed Campus had just so many problems. I hate just opening up a review with “This book was bad”… but… this one was tough read.

I’ll start with the good parts.

The premise of a zombie apocalypse ground zero at a college campus was pretty fun. Lots of great things you could do with that! Not to mention it gave a fresh feel to the zombie genre. I also thought it was interesting with the whole radio station and walkie talkie communication part of the plot. Another cool plot point was how the main bad guy could control the zombies. I don’t want to say too much about it because I don’t want to give away any big spoilers, but I thought it was an clever little twist to zombies.

Another highlight of this book is that it had a very fast pace. Pretty much right away stuff starts going sideways and the action keeps building through the whole book. There were very few slow downs and the characters kept moving quickly. I have always loved the zombie genre and to me, a key part of the genre is a quick flow to the story. Even if the characters are just trying to fortify a house the whole time, as long as there is forward movement of some kind- trying to board up the house, looking for weapons, learning new info from a radio/ tv, etc. A zombie book where the characters find a place to hid and then just sit around and talk about their feelings for the whole time, with no zombie action *COUGH* The Walking Dead after season 1 *COUGH* gets SUPER boooooring! We want ZOMBIES. That is why we are reading a ZOMBIE book (or watching a zombie movie / tv show or playing a zombie video game). If the characters aren’t constantly dealing with the zombie problem or, in some cases, trying to find the cure, the story gets very stale FAST. Closed Campus did not get stale. The author constantly had the main group dealing with the zombies, trying to escape, trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Ok, so now to the bad parts.

Oh boy. I hate to say this….. but…. this book felt more like highschool fanfiction. D: It didn’t help my mindset when I read an afterword from the author saying how she only just discovered the zombie genre recently after her husband got a zombie game to play. D: I know I’m being kind of a book snob here, but it’s a really big pet peeve of mine when an author does a certain genre when they don’t really know much about that genre. It happens a lot with horror books and it just…. really irks me off. I’m NOT saying this author did not research zombies before she wrote this book, but…. *shrug* You can feel the author’s passion for the story, but something just felt off. :/

Some of the dialogue was just… strange. I don’t really know how to explain it. It was just kind of…. clunky, maybe? And some very strange vocab choices for these college kids. Ok, granted, I haven’t been in college for, like, 11 years give or take… but, I feel like words like “fracas” aren’t exactly a go to word for young college kids to just throw around without trying to be ironic, sarcastic or a hipster, which none of them were. There were several times when the words just didn’t seem to match the characters, if you know what I mean? It felt so… disjointed… that it left me feeling a real WTF sort of feeling.

Along with odd vocab dialogue, there were problems with the way things were explained to the reader. Now, I can’t write my way out of a paper bag as far as writing a story goes, but I read a lot. I always have. And in Closed Campus, the writing felt very… simplistic. Especially when things were being explained. The book is filled with stiff dialogue like “We went to this building. Now we are walking to that building. Now we are at this building. Now we are going up a ladder.” Those aren’t direct quotes from the book, but it is what it felt like when the author was describing locations and plans of how to escape. Very basic. A little too to the point. D: This sort of choppy writing made the book hard to read.

At first, I was super happy to see the main character suffered from anxiety problems and was an introvert. I thought it was so cool getting to see a main character in a horror book like that. Someone I could easily connect to because I also have anxiety and an introvert. So I was like YAY!

The thing is…. Jane is totally NOT an introvert! Like, at all!! 😡 She was pretty out going and seemed to have zero problems talking and flirting with people. She had no problems telling people what to do, or giving directions or sort of public social talking. I get it that there is a spectrum of introvert / extrovert. Everyone is a little different. Some people are more, some people are less, some people are right in the middle between the two. But Jane didn’t really show any signs at all that she was an introvert. The only time she “showed” it, is when she just would randomly say “that’s me being an introvert again.” *Looks around* Where? Where exactly were you being an introvert, because I must have missed it. :/

Jane kinda-sorta-but-not-really being an introvert wasn’t the only problem with her. For being a somewhat smart character, sometimes she acted so damn stupid!! Ok, so she has a lot on her mind right now…. she’s homesick and she has this big new radio DJ job she is nervous about… so, yeah, ok, she’s got a lot going on… But seriously. You walk by a restrunt where there is a huge fight going on and you see people BITTING other people and tearing them apart and….. you just fucking keep walking like you are on an everyday casual Sunday stroll?? REALLY? You aren’t going to stop and gawk? You aren’t going to question WTF is going on in there? You aren’t going to alert anyone, like cops, or 911 at least? You aren’t going to whip your phone out and start filming this so you can upload it to social media or make a meme out of it? What kind of college kid are you?? Nope. Jane just keeps on walking. La dee da. Whateves. I don’t think she even brought it up when she arrived at the NEWS radio station.

Was this scene supposed to be satire? Like in Shaun of the Dead, how he was oblivious to the zombie like society around him? Because it didn’t read like satire. And it just made Jane look mega stupid. D: There are other times in the book when she does stupid stuff like that but this was the biggest YOU-GOTTA-BE-KIDDING-ME moment example of it.

Closed Campus had a lot of ridiculous moments that were just too unbelievable. But Ami, it’s a zombie book, of course it’s going to be ridiculous and unbelievable! Yeah, ok. Zombie stories are normally pretty crazy. But in this book, there were just a lot of little ridiculous things that built up and it just didn’t work. Like, in one day Jane get’s hit on by two creeper characters- her teacher and the star hockey player. Really? -.- The whole ending / reveal is just… oh boy. Not to mention it was really predictable and cliched. It also feels like there are a lot of contradictions with the story and with the characters. Like, sometimes the personality just seems to change for no reason. I don’t know. It was just so awkward.

I really, really wanted to like this book. I love reading zombie stories and this one had such a fun premise! Zombies in college! Awesome! But, wow, the execution was just so rough. With all the problems I listed above, it was really hard to finish this book. Closed Campus is a book 1 in a series. I wish this author all the best with it. I do not think I will be picking up book 2 though.

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