These days, zombie stories cost a dime a dozen. With so many zombie stories to choose from, anyone with a taste for the living dead can afford to be choosy. Whenever a new zombie story hits the scene there is (naturally) some trepidation, but when it comes to Bug by Callie Chase, this is the real deal. The story takes place incrementally on Amazon’s new Kindle Vella platform, and the serial format works great to keep readers engaged while creating suspense between episodes.
The story opens with normal people doing normal, everyday things. Bea and her roommate Rowena, Drew, and Tobias are all strangers, caught in the midst of chaos as the world begins to fall apart. People around them start to turn into flesh eating zombies and some turn into animals and what happens in the flames? It’s a lot. They’re all stranded in different parts of Los Angeles as the city tries to convince residents to stay calm in the wake of the mysterious events that have turned its citizens into something … else. (Like, doesn’t it? Does “staying calm” really make people calm?)
Bug is not your average zombie story
This is what makes Bug stand out: Chase doesn’t skimp on the details. Have you ever wondered what life was like when the zombie outbreak began? It tends to be obscured in shows like The walking dead in favor of flashbacks that occur long after the world is gone. Chase stays grounded in the early moments, laying the groundwork for her story so she can really use it later.
These are the little details that I appreciate the most, next to its interesting and well-developed characters. As a fan of The walking dead, Chase knows what the apocalypse will look like later on, so she spends time building a story that makes a lot of sense from the start. Take, for example, hiding ammunition. One of her characters is smart enough to think about the big picture, so she hides ammo in buffer boxes. Clever.
Chase also knows that The walking dead hit a few speed bumps throughout her run and she’s actively correcting her course to make sure her story stays fresh and new throughout.
Now that Kindle Vella has been around for a few weeks, I had the chance to play around with Amazon’s new platform, and I love it. I fully understand the appeal of Kindle Vella to authors. You can post episodes of a story at your own pace, collecting feedback as you craft the story (assuming it’s not completed when you start posting installments) and the story should never really end.
Traditional novels follow formulas, with a handful of acts and some sort of resolve or cliffhanger that ties into the next book. With Kindle Vella, serialized stories can continue indefinitely if an author chooses to construct a word that has endless possibilities, much like a comic book story. (Or South Park, where the kids have been in fourth grade for about a million years…)
Chase’s world is vast. He’s starting out in Los Angeles, but he could move anywhere and follow anyone. The zombie virus and the shapeshifter world serve as a springboard for her, so she never has to stop Bug if she doesn’t want to. Bug can last three years in serialized form instead of spanning multiple books, and it works great.
There are many other Kindle Vella stories that work well with this new format. Some will not work in a serialized format.
Bug works. It works really well.
If you are a fan of horror, zombies, shapeshifters, or dystopian apocalyptic nightmares that force ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances, then Bug is for you. The bug is available now and there are already over a dozen episodes for you to enjoy, with the first three available for free.