Last night I put my Nook down and wiped tears from my cheeks. This author dragged me through the mud and dark night along with his wonderfully human cast of characters. It was exactly what I love in a book, immediately hooked me with a likeable protagonist, lightly paint me some background and let the bullets fly. It didn’t take long before the action began, just long enough for me to decide I really like Mike, the main character for book one. A young history teacher, a fast acting virus that causes the victim to feel no pain and become savagely violent, a nice mix of surviving students, well, I was hooked. This is not a conventional zompoc. The Tilian virus does cause the infected to desire human flesh, however they are not “walking dead”. The infected reminded me of the monsters in the I Am Legend movie with Will Smith, not the novel. Which anyone who has read the novel and seen that version of the movie knows the only thing they have in common is the name of the main character. Anyway, the “Tils”, which is the nickname given to the infected, have that same super aggressive, angry sort of malevolence. So, after the inevitable shit hits the fan, Mike is able to help a small band of students escape to the mountains, picking up a few stragglers along the way. While struggling to carve out an existence, the group encounters the occasional Til that makes it up to their mountain hideaway, but almost worse is the battles with other humans who want to take their supplies, steal the women or just make them miserable. After stumbling across a message about safety to be found on the island of Cuba, the survivors make their way to the Florida coast seeking safety. Book two starts with the survivors trying to make a life on the island. The story is no longer told from Mikes perspective, and at first I was not happy. The story now comes from many different perspectives and once I got past the sorrow of not being solely in Mikes head anymore, I realized this truly enhanced the story as the other characters are likeable in their own ways and brought so much more to the picture. Now we are also introduced to the idea that this virus was created as a weapon. At the same time, a crew is sent back to the mainland to attempt to find survivors. Now we are six years from the initial outbreak and survival is much more difficult as infrastructure starts to fail. I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who might be intrigued by this review to give the series a shot. But I will say that the author really knows human nature and the demons that each survivor deals with is very realistic and occasionally heart-breaking. Great job, Mr. Calen.