70k words, complete @Ao3 by StopTalkingAtMe
Genre/What to expect: Two scared and broken people in a horrible, cold world. Neither of them trust easily, but they both need it. Slow burn. Horror. Side of blood. Zombie Polar Bears!
Pairings: Citizen Z/Female Original Character (my new Simon OTP)
The man formerly known as Simon Cruller is on the verge of losing his mind from solitude and the burden of being the self-appointed narrator of the end of the world.
When he meets Faye Keneally, a conservationist stranded in the Arctic, who’s as lonely and messed up as he is, he starts to think there might be hope for him after all.
But winter is coming, which means two months in total darkness, and in the long Polar night some of the shadows have teeth.
Suitable for fandom blind readers? Yes, though some of the references to what is happening in the rest of the world may confuse.
Who should read this? Anyone who likes post apocalyptic/zombie stories, with a well crafted romance plot. Expect some foul language, a bit of smut, and plenty of action in the later arc.
Reviewed by: Tafferling
Slap on some extra layers of clothing, because this’ll be equal measures wild and oh so very cold.
StopTalkingAtMe has an incredible gift. She marries believable characterisation with beautiful scene setting, and draws you in real close. Right from the start you’ll be dragging your feet through the icy tundra alongside Faye, and share in her desperate solitude in a world trying to buck the living off its shoulders. Soon after, you’ll be yanked about by the emotional roller coaster that’s Simon’s and Faye’s slow dance around each other, and it’ll be both heart warming and heart wrenching.
Faye starts out alone, her sanity brittle with how lonely she’s been, and oh so vulnerable. It’s human and close to perfection, and she grew on me right quick. Though I might be biased, because she’s just my type of girl:
That long weekend in Reykjavik with the dick who worked in the city. What was his fucking name? For the life of her she can’t remember, but she can picture the way he stubbed out cigarettes as though he’d been mortally offended by the ashtray. The two of them on the balcony of their hotel room, staring up at the sky, their faces illuminated by the shimmering lights. Just for a little while the differences between them were swept away by something that was older than humanity and–
No. She’s remembering it wrong. Because they hadn’t seen a thing.
And once she follows Citizen Z’s call across all the white on white an
d then some more white, you might end up wanting to shake your screen, because listen up people, not everyone (except their dog) is out to hurt you. It’s okay to trust and heal, even if your demons stalk you day and night, and whisper harshly in your ear.
They work it out though. Eventually. Only for StopTalkingAtMe to dial up the heat (entirely figuratively), and even Zombie Polar Bears start to look a lot like a comfortable alternative for what’s up ahead.
So, in summary: Faye is a wonderfully written original character. Simon is on point, and true to his canon characterisation. The writing is superb. The pacing just right. And you’ll even get a villain to hate on, and oh god yes, will you hate him. (I’m still seething.)
Review examples from Ao3:
Why did I ever stop checking out Z Nation fics? This is so good! A shame I didn’t read it sooner. I love it. I love the additional background he gets and I love her and I love how real and feral she is, how slowly she opens up and how patient yet broken he is. I love it!
This chapter– this chapter 28 has me wonder just how the fuck you managed to do this. How did you drag me from chapter one, all the way to here, with a constant undercurrent of tension? Even in the quiet moments it still sat right at the edge of the words. Never went very far.
And now I’m about ready to snap, because I need to know how this ends, and… I somehow doubt it will end well.