This book started out as the scariest, goriest YA novel I have ever read. Not a criticism, just an observation. I actually loved the suspense, and even the gross-out factor was fitting for a book about the zombie apocalypse. The first half or so was really solid. We're introduced to our main character, Alex. She acquires a realistically frustrating and bitchy little kid, Ellie, and then Tom, the young ex-soldier with PTSD, enters as the love interest. The book becomes the three of them versus the world, and their struggles to survive while getting to know one another and working out their new family dynamic in a newly zombie-filled world were fantastic....Then the second half happened. It was like the second half to a completely different novel. The two halves don't combine to make a whole. It's like the author had a really good idea for the beginning to an apocalyptic novel, and then she had a different idea for another apocalyptic novel, and she just decided to mush them together haphazardly. First, Ellie is kidnapped. Then Tom is injured. Alex goes to get help, but when she gets back, Tom is gone. Exit Ellie and Tom. For the whole novel. The second half is about Alex navigating the weird fortified town she finds herself in, and she hardly even thinks about Ellie and Tom at all, which is absolutely ridiculous considering the dynamics set up in the first half. The first half was all about the three of them figuring things out together, and in the second half it's just Alex figuring out the weird cultish town.I'll probably pick up the second book in hopes of a return to the sensibility of the first half, but my hopes are not terribly high.