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VINE VOICEon August 28, 2009
Among The Living takes place in Seattle and starts out sharing with the reading audience the lives of four different people in the city. The author uses both third and first person perspectives as we go through the routines of their days. Hints of the start of an undead uprising are sprinkled throughout the story but much of the early part of the book keeps that as background noise for most of the characters...there is a gas leak in a neighborhood, it is cordoned off, there are strange stories on the internet but the news networks are saying nothing and the stories are disappearing as quickly as they appear. As the story rolls on we are given small bits and pieces, a few attacks, there is footage found online of some shaky cell phone video, etc. but the city and the main characters, for the most part, have no real comprehension of what is going on until it is far too late.

The author slips from one character to the next with relative ease, pacing the story through their eyes, and in particular, through Mike, a journalist's eyes, who is telling us his story in first person. The other stories, about Lester, a drug dealer caught inside the neighborhood that is originally cordoned off, Kate, a serial killer who is just getting warmed up, and Grinder, the lead singer of a heavy metal band, are all told in third person. Tim does an excellent job of getting us up to speed on all his character's lives and how they act and react to everything going on around them.

I found it particularly interesting that the only person we are given first person exposure to is the journalist and likely the most normal person of the bunch. Mike is dealing with difficult issues but his burgeoning relationship with a co-worker seems a bright spot in a story filled with three other characters who are all, in my humble estimation, disturbed in their own particular ways. It would have been interesting to see the first person perspective of the serial killer, though the insights into her psychy are pretty indepth (I would especially like to see the first person perspective of the "other", which drives Kate to do the horrid things she does).

When it is finally clear that the deaders are at their full strength and their numbers are growing rapidly, the violence is in your face, visceral, and merciless. The author indiscriminantly throws us into the blender and lets us taste the agony of a city that is dying and coming back to life with the undead. A sequel would be natural and makes complete sense because in many ways, this tale has only just begun.

The story is solid and the characters real and fascinating. I kind of figure Tim decided to give us the first person perspective with the more "normal" character of the lot. Since these four barely get to interact during the book, it will be interesting if he decides to carry along with a first person view and see what perceptions Mike develops about the drug dealer, the heavy metal lead singer, and the serial killer.

The book is excellent and Tim, a first time novelist but someone who has written quite a few other works, definitely has some chops as a writer. My only true criticism is that there are some typos sprinkled throughout the book. Nothing that really detracts from the story but they are noticeable. It certainly did not keep me from enjoying the book a great deal and I am looking forward to picking up the sequel down the road when he gets around to writing it.

If you are a fan of zombies or just of apocalyptic fiction in general, this is definitely one to pick up.
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on January 27, 2012
This story was gory, disgusting and terrifying, everything a zombie novel should be. I loved it! The descriptions painted a very vivid picture. I'll have nightmares for weeks, but I can't wait until the next installment comes out! A number of reviewers seem to have issues with the grammar and spelling. I can't say I really noticed the errors as I was reading, but I might be more forgiving than some readers. If you are someone who is offended by those type of errors, this might not be the book (or version) for you. Other reviews also talk about some of the unnecessary characters that don't add to the plot. Since this is the first in a series, I believe those characters will become important in the following books. They appeared in this book to provide their background as the events were happening. Yes, most of the characters are horrible people. Sometimes I felt the zombies were more sympathetic and easier to relate to than the live characters. However, I look forward to seeing those characters' personal growth in future installments.
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on March 11, 2016
I notice that, among some of the negative reviews of this book, there were comments like “Spellcheck is your friend,” “Grammatical nightmare,” “Did anyone edit this book,” and “There are a lot of grammatical mistakes, using the wrong form of a word, and things like that. It makes it very irritating to read. I felt like I was reading something from an 8th grader.”

I also noticed, though, that most, if not all, of these reviews were older; so maybe Long took the criticism to heart and cleaned up his copy. If he didn’t, however, either I didn’t read the same book as the aforementioned reviewers, or I was too engrossed in the narrative to notice. Poor writing and poor grammar, after all, are NOT necessarily one and the same, and Long definitely has a good sense of narrative rhythm and pacing.

I found his writing style – usually – to be compelling, sometimes even bordering on breathtaking. That fact is all the more impressive (at least to me it is) considering the fact that Long tells his story in the present tense. I usually find present-tense distracting and gimmicky, but I thought Long pulled it off really well – no small feat, IMO.

I found myself rooting for these characters, too, and really wrapped up in their stories. Even with Long’s most despicable characters (and there is one here that is particularly absorbent), there were moments of vulnerability and relatability.

I found the book’s greatest weakness to be Long’s tendency (and this might be a spoiler) to kill off characters in which I had been emotionally invested. I know GRRM has kind of made this sort of thing fashionable, but Long’s cast of characters isn’t nearly so vast, interesting, and widespread as those found in “A Song of Ice & Fire” (and the way he kills his some of his characters definitely calls GRRM to mind). As such, when an important character died unexpectedly, I was DEEPLY disappointed. I felt Long had damaged his story because there wasn’t anyone else sufficiently compelling to fill the void. Truthfully, this single aspect of the story was sufficient to make me lean towards not reading the sequel.

There is lots and lots of violence and gore here, and, transformed into a faithful movie adaptation, this book would definitely merit a hard ‘R’ (and I COULD easily envision this book adapted for the screen). It’s certainly not for the squeamish or the faint of heart.

Don’t believe the negativity, though; the positive reviews for this book are, IMO, closer to the truth. Although I found Long’s killing off of important characters vastly disappointing, this first book in his series is definitely worth a read. I suppose whether “Among the Living” is sufficiently compelling to merit reading the sequel is up to each reader. I’m leaning towards NOT reading the sequel, but I would definitely give another Long book a go; his writing style is confident, competent, and compelling.
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on April 27, 2012
Went through the book, thought it was alright, but missing something major. Thinking back, it was the very, very slow build up to a full on zombie outbreak. Personally I thought the character development was pretty solid. However some of the plot seemed a bit implausible, such as the government response to an impossible to hide epidemic along with some actions the characters took when confronted by zombies, which reminded me of a B grade horror flick. But perhaps other readers enjoys that type of horror. So if you are into a book which is more about how a zombie pandemic very very slowly building up along with a fairly decent development the the major character and thier associates then this is for you. But if you're more into some action packed reading + frustrating decision making by the protagonists. Read the last third of the book only.
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on June 17, 2015
Among the living is a fresh take on the Zombie apocalypse genre! I love the fact that the main characters are just as dark in some cases as the dead! A Serial killer and Drug dealer in the mix is genius. This was a non-stop thrill ride from beginning to end. Looking forward to the next book! Tim did a great job setting up the main characters as you really feel there pain in the end.
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on March 6, 2016
I considered giving up on this one. It felt a little slow (true zombie action doesn't start until about 85% in.) The characters were completely whacked. But they were interesting and I was curious to see how it would play out. The author did a really good job of making the characters seem real. They each had a distinct voice. I'm undecided if I will read the next one. I like how this focuses on one city rather than the whole world being wiped out in a week. But I worry that the next one will start out just as slowly. Plus the deaths at the end made me sad.
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on January 1, 2012
I really enjoyed this book, and am a huge fan of zombie stuff. The ONLY reason I didn't give it 5 stars is the graphic nature of Kate doing her business in the first of her chapters. It was just not something I needed to read to be part of the story. I don't mind guts/gore/gross, but the details of her doings had no place in the book and I didn't care for it. Sometimes things can be best left to the imagination. The rest of the book was awesome. I really loved what he did with the story and the characters, all of them were great and such a wonderful read. I truly enjoyed the writing and recommend it highly. Definitely worth full price of admission!
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on January 5, 2013
Gosh it's been awhile since I read this I just noticed I didn't leave a review. The different stories were interesting and I liked the book. Bit it wasn't one of those page turners that kept me on the edge of my seat. It's better than most zombies books out there. Go ahead and give it a try.
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on October 26, 2014
What does a stoner drug dealer, a reporter who works for a small paper, a heavy metal singer and a serial killer have in common? These unlikely survivors are living out the early days of the zombie apocalypse in Seattle. With government misinformation assuring everyone that there is no problem, they struggle along using only their observations and what skills they have to answer they question, " what the hell is going on".
Good characters along with a good story makes for a good read. I am starting on the next book now.
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on March 29, 2013
Among the living was a good read, and listen. I have the audiobook as well and switched between the ebook and the audiobook a few times while commuting to work. It's the story of several characters at the start of a zombie apocalypse. I found the story of Kate very interesting, a serial killer who always figured she'd be caught one day but hey guess what? - zombies are here!! LOL! Some of the characters I didn't really care for (Lester, Grinder and his band, and Angela ) and from the start I was really hoping they would die. I won't tell you whether I got satisfaction regarding that or not. I think that is the first time I experienced such a feeling. Perhaps that was what the author intended me to feel, not quite sure. I enjoyed the scenes with Mike and Erin, newspaper reporters who finally admit they dig each other and maybe they can be happy and move past some previous life struggles buy hey guess what? - zombies are here!! Overall a solid zombie apocalypse tale which I have no trouble recommending to others!
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