Little Miss CassSat on her assMoping and sulking all dayAlong came a BeaterWho sat down to eat herAnd frightened Miss Cass awayI have no frackin' idea how to feel about this book. It was so easy to read, but every time I started to love it, it was like the author went out of her way to raise my ire. There are like a million things I want to grumble about but I simply can't sort them out in my head.Dos and Don'ts -- Writing a Post-Apocalyptic Zombie Novel:DO Think Things Through - If your apocalypse happened less than a year ago, there are some limits to what your people can have forgotten or learned. Forgotten all the days of the week? Probably not. People will find ways to mark those for as long as they possibly can and really, it's not that hard. There's also a limit to how much history people can lose, so making a climate in which history is already in dire danger of extinction comes across a bit extreme. Oh, I know, I know, there are no teachers any more! Life is hard! That's nice. There weren't teachers as we know them now in prehistory, either, and life was often hard, but they had oral histories. So would we. And all your children became knife wielding pros? In less than a year? Even though supposedly weapons were confiscated? Or am I missing something? Another thing you should think through is clarity, because even if it's post-apocalyptic we still need to know what the frag is going on.DO Your Research - It doesn't matter what sort of atmosphere you're trying to set, you still need to know what you're talking about. The idea that a bit of targeted bioweaponry could somehow spread from livestock fowl to all other birds is really ridiculous. Birds are diverse, adaptable, and hard to kill off. For example: Birds were the only dinosaurs to survive the KT Extinction. (And yes, they are dinosaurs.) The same goes for trees. Plant life is remarkably hardy, as the revived orchids on my windowsill can attest to. It's going to take a lot more than "OMG Terrorists with bioweapons" to make it convincing that the plant life could be so overwhelmingly wiped out.Research is important in all aspects of scene setting. Let's say your character has stumbled upon a rabbit nest containing a mother rabbit and her babies. Ignoring the fact that rabbits are burrowers since you obviously have, your character somehow proceeds to approach the mother rabbit and grab her by the neck. Please note that your character should not walk away from this encounter unscathed. She will likely be scratched all to hell by the rabbit's tough, thick but stiletto-tipped claws, which are perfect for digging and gouging regardless of whether it's dirt or flesh. Also note that rabbits have sharp, strong snipping teeth and consider the fact that your character may walk away shy a few fingertips. Finally, take into consideration that your reader is not stupid and doesn't need to know much about rabbits to realize any mother animal is going to defend its babies to the death. (Outside of ones that don't do mothering, but now we're getting really nitpicky.)Finally, understand that your dialog is never clever enough to cover up your callous ignorance towards the history of animal cruelty. Making the "Lemmings follow each other to their deaths" joke once is bad enough, but twice is offensive. Lemmings don't commit mass suicide. Some asshole documentary-makers from Disney used a turntable to fling them off a cliff.DON'T Blame it all on Terrorists with Bioweapons - Interestingly, this one has a direct connection to the previous DO. Terrorists with bioweapons is a favorite for making an apocalypse, but a bit of study of science and society reveals that there's limits to the realism of it. Understand that bioweapons are frighteningly dangerous because they can affect the person making them, too. Being a terrorist does not necessarily mean you're willing to put your own people at risk, and you'd be doing so. Or, if your goal is, say, to convert the infidels, you're going to have a hard time achieving that if all the infidels have come down with a case of the deads. Bioweapons are also costly. A very strong motivation is needed for the making and use of them and believe it or not, I don't consider terrorism a strong enough motivation. In other words, use them sparingly, not for every goddamn bad thing that happened.DO Make Your Zombies Scary - Some people think that zombies are scary no matter what. I don't agree. When you put them in text, it doesn't take much to turn your zombies completely ineffectual at the whole scary thing. Sure, they live in nests, hunt in groups and drag people off to their doom. Sure, they do things to people that I'm trying not to think about right now because I'm eating my lunch while I write this. But when you start adding intelligence or human-like traits to your zombies, you begin treading shaky ground. If your zombies remember how to open car doors at an inopportune time for your protagonist, they are scary. If they randomly remember bits and pieces and end up pushing a wheelbarrow full of random shit down the street like a bunch of undead drunken frat boys, they are ridiculous. DON'T Make Your Zombies Superfluous - Apocalypse. Terrorists. Famine. Government abandonment, The land turning into a barren wasteland. Groups of people huddled into dangerous warring factions. What exactly did we need the zombies for again? Oh yeah! Marketing! If your zombies only give chase two times and are completely ineffective in their attempts, don't bother.DO Handle Your Romance Tropes with Care - If you have them at all, use them sparingly, and choose them smartly. I don't mind a mysterious hero, but when he doesn't actually have a personality, how can I be scared for him when the zombies are bearing down on his ass? And consider carefully whether you really need diaphanous white curtains blowing in the gentle breeze during your sex scene. DON'T Get too Pretentious - I'm all for elevating the zombie genre. Lies, all lies. I want shotguns and explosions and people running for their lives, and I want them now. Forget elevating, give me leveling baby. If you want to try to do this with your prose, okay. But please, please, please don't write in those pretentious long sentences you sometimes see in literary novels, the ones that are connected by lots of ands and sometimes lose their punctuation completely even though it's like adverb adverb verb adjective adverb and they just keep going on and on and on and on and they get more and more obnoxious kind of like this and isn't this really freakin' annoying? Yeah, don't do that. DON'T Make Your Heroine an Irritating, Self-Loathing Sadsack - Please understand: I love difficult characters. I write them, I read them, they rarely bother me. I have unusual amounts of empathy for a cold-hearted Aspie and can often see where characters are coming from. If they're trying. But being an irritating, self-loathing sadsack is not the same as having a personality. Perhaps consider revealing that your character was molested by her stepfather a bit earlier on, so that it doesn't seem like she spent a lot of time drinking and having sex simply because she was an emo teen with mommy issues. Also, maybe reconsider the whole "having lots of sex to make self numb" thing, because then all your heroine's regrets and stuff come dangerously close to slutshaming and slutshaming makes me angry. And you wouldn't like me when I'm angry.Your heroine does not need to continue to hate and blame herself after it is clearly revealed that it's not really her fault her daughter almost got zombiefied. She does, however, need to refrain from raping her love interest. Please understand that it does not matter that you wrote him to end up wanting to have sex. He did not want to. She did sexual things to him against his will. This is not okay. At least make her apologize for it. I cannot rate this book. I can't. It's like having a roommate that I hate a lot because he brings home girls on nights when I ask him not to and leaves his dirty underwear on the floor, but I use him for sex anyway because he has a nice ass. How are you supposed to give that a star rating?