It’s become vanishingly rare for there to be anything new to say about the zombie apocalypse. This book is no different, but will likely hit the sweet spot for fans of the subgenre, and especially for those who don’t think that there’s enough teenage angst already in the existing corpus.
In this expansion on Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead universe, Clementine is on her own again, using crutches to compensate for the makeshift prosthetic she’s been using since losing her lower left leg. It’s after breaking this substitute leg that she reluctantly agrees to accept help from a nearby Amish settlement. The doctor there fits her up with a nice new prosthetic but she’s too wary to stay overnight, despite all the help they’ve freely given her.
While on the road north the next day, she crosses paths with Amos, an Amish teen who fought to be allowed to go on Rumspringa, the first of their community’s since the apocalypse shut everything down. He has a dream of traveling to a Vermont town to help rebuild a mountaintop hideaway, after which he’ll be rewarded with a real life plane ride. Clem is skeptical of all this, but eventually accepts a buggy ride and helps take turns driving and keeping walkers away. As the days pass, Clem starts to grow fond of Amos’ sunniness, not that she’d ever admit as much out loud. When they arrive in Vermont and find the mountain he’s been heading towards, she decides to stick around for a while just to make sure everything is legit.
The fact that there are only three other people — all teenage girls — at the hideaway immediately raises Clem’s suspicions, but Amos is intent on working hard and helping out. But as one disaster after another strikes, emotions run high, leading almost inevitably to betrayal.
The story itself is fine, if not particularly original or strong enough to withstand more than passing scrutiny. Perhaps the gaps will be filled in better in Books Two and Three. It doesn’t help that Tillie Walden’s art is occasionally too murky to differentiate between characters or to fully illustrate what’s happening to them. I really enjoyed Amos tho, who was a delight. I just… I don’t think I’m this book’s target demographic. I don’t care about your standard zombies and I’d much rather read about teenage angst in real world situations (tho, perhaps hilariously, one of my favorite zombie books is Lia Habel’s steampunk-zombie-teen romance mashup Dearly, Departed.)
Clementine, Book One by Tillie Walden was published digitally June 22 2022 by Image Comics and will be available in print June 28 2022 from all good booksellers, including