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Literature / Along the Winding Road

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Along the Winding Road is a post- Zombie Apocalypse novel by Marlee Pagels. It stars Charlotte Heiman, a zombie hunter who must cross the devastated remains of Texas to find her little brother. Along the way, she joins forces with Arthur Deering, a rather off-kilter archer, and Dalton Tolbert, a ridiculously intelligent but surprisingly social nerd.

This book provides examples of:

  • Action Duo: Charlotte and Arthur, with Charlotte being more of the Action Survivor and Arthur the Action Hero.
  • Action Girl: Kind of a requirement for a female protagonist in a zombie fic.
  • After the End: Rather than focusing on the Zombie Apocalypse itself, the novel skips to four years after the start.
  • Badass Bookworm: Dalton. On top of being hailed as a genius (and smart enough to work as the team medic despite not getting the chance to get through college), he's apparently trained in bojutsu. At least enough to beat up zombies.
  • Berserk Button: Maybe don't egg Charlotte on by saying her baby brother might be dead or worse. Milton learns this the hard way.
  • Big Sister Instinct: The whole adventure only happens because Charlotte is bound and determined to look after her little brother, even if she has to cross the state by foot to do it.
  • Girly Bruiser: Charlotte. Nothing like shooting down zombies so you can go shoe-shopping.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Cited by Arthur, who hasn't seen another living human in years. He hears voices, among other things.
  • Good Is Not Soft: While Charlotte is optimistic and gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, that doesn't mean you can try to murder her friend/boyfriend and get off scot-free. Or even necessarily live.
  • Hearing Voices: Happens to Arthur every time he tries to get to sleep. He believes them to be ghosts. Considering he was likely responsible for the deaths of most of humanity, he may be right.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Arthur, due to major social anxiety and probably also the fact that he was responsible for the deaths of a lot of humanity.
  • Nice Girl: Charlotte. While she's necessarily a tough one after living through the Zombie Apocalypse, she's managed to retain her optimism and does her best to be kind to even the questionable travelers she comes across.
    • Dalton's also a pretty good example. He definitely looks out for his friends.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: When told from Charlotte's point of view, they're always infecteds, monsters, or even creatures. Reasonable in that they are still living.
    • But when the perspective shifts to Arthur's narrative, he doesn't mind calling them zombies. Considering he "summoned" them himself, it's not surprising.
  • Plague Zombie: The zombies are assumed to be from some sort of contagion, though even Dalton hasn't determined whether it's a bacteria, virus, or something else. Considering it's actually some sort of magic, this isn't so strange.
  • Plucky Girl: Charlotte. She's rather plain-jane at times, but her optimistic determination is nice to have after the apocalypse. It's such an integral part of her character that Arthur can hardly recognize her when she's listlessly mourning the death of her brother.
    • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: Charlotte as the Beauty, Dalton as the Brains, and Arthur as the Brawn. Not that they aren't all a little brawn.
    • Token Trio: Dalton as the white male, Arthur as the Asian male, and Charlotte as the white female. Inverted in that the white female is the hero and the white male is the third wheel.
    • Two Guys and a Girl: Although the girl is the main character and the guys aren't fighting over her.
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: Though we start out with just Charlotte and Arthur, once Dalton joins the crew we have this.
  • Romantic Wingman: Dalton. Apparently he used to do this a lot before the apocalypse came along.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Most of Arthur's take on things. Are the zombies diseased or really the risen dead? Is he really hearing ghosts? Did he really start the apocalypse with a spell in an otherwise mundane world? Very little is known for sure, though it's implied he's right.
  • The Whitest Asian Guy: Arthur. Despite being of obvious Chinese heritage, he plays the part of a pretty standard white British guy. Lampshaded when he meets Rosalind, who's much more enthusiastic about her heritage.