As I sit here writing my review of the The Mortis, I’m incredibly conflicted. On one hand, there are so many things about this book that I found absolAs I sit here writing my review of the The Mortis, I’m incredibly conflicted. On one hand, there are so many things about this book that I found absolutely fascinating – the premise, the setting, the ideas, and yet some things that I found really, well, awkward.
Although the exact location of the story is never really disclosed, by picking up on some clues in the story I’m pretty certain that it was set in Madagascar – which in itself is pretty cool for a post-apocalyptic novel, which are normally set somewhere far more generic or familiar. There’s a fancy hotel complex, jungle, ocean and some truly fascinating backdrops – it’s pretty much any holiday-maker’s worst nightmare after everything goes to pot. The plot is also interesting, in that a mysterious disease breaks out that doesn’t kill people and it’s definitely not zombies in the traditional sense – it’s much more mental than physical. But that is also one of the reasons that stopped me loving The Mortis, coupled with a gap between outbreak and the majority of the story – I felt like I was missing context and build-up.
Focusing on two main characters, husband and wife Park and Lee, who are on vacation when the other tourists start to act strangely, The Mortis is primarily a survival story – and is equal parts character and plot driven. Sadly, the characters fell a little flat for me – there’s next to no information about their backgrounds, no personality and a distinct lack of chemistry. And yes, they are in an incredibly stressful, uncertain situation, so I wasn’t expecting romance and unicorns, but I did want them to have some kind of connection to each other, either positive or negative. Rather, it felt almost mechanical – and not even in the survival sense that all the other priorities fell understandably to the wayside – simply that I couldn’t imagine them as real people, and that stopped me from forming any kind of emotional attachment.
The Mortis is told through the perspectives of both Park and Lee, but not alternating – Park narrates the first half, and Lee the second, which meant that I got to see events through both their eyes, but it didn’t feel like they had particularly distinctive voices – for the most part they could have been interchanged and it’s possible that I wouldn’t have even noticed.
What The Mortis lacks in characterisation, the pacing goes a long way towards making up for. Despite the gap between outbreak and the start of their survival, there’s very little down time, and some seriously freaky things happening. Despite my love of fast pacing, it’s almost a little overwhelming at times – and although the synopsis insinuates that Cãlo plays a large part in the story, far more time is spent in the wilderness and the hotel complex.
A unique setting, fast plot and interesting premise certainly held my attention, the atmospheric yet distant writing style was memorable, however the coldness of the characters and the lack of more information on the disease and it’s wider effect left me feeling rather undecided about The Mortis, yet incredibly curious about Jonathan R. Millers work....more
In a Handful of Dust is a powerful, character-driven follow up to Not a Drop to Drink. I do disagree that it is a companion novel, for me it read farIn a Handful of Dust is a powerful, character-driven follow up to Not a Drop to Drink. I do disagree that it is a companion novel, for me it read far more like a sequel, but it was definitely sequel-worthy.
Lucy has grown up since the events of Not a Drop to Drink, and Lynn has become more and more like her own mother. Although their personalities are very different, right from the beginning, the strength of their relationship is obvious, and is a combination of mother-daughter but also sisterly love. It’s a dynamic that I loved, and what will stand out most for me when I think back on In a Handful of Dust. Lynn has become more sarcastic and mistrusting, but she has also adopted the dedication to those that she loves that her own mother had.
It is also very different from Not a Drop to Drink plotwise – whereas NaDtD was more focused on building relationships in a difficult yet static environment, IaHoD is a journey – the relationship is already well established so the focus is more on intimacy, support, love and sacrifice.
What I had hoped for was that In a Handful of Dust would expand on the world-building of Not a Drop to Drink, but it is rather limited. However, I actually didn’t care – and for someone who is all about the world-building, it’s a real testament to the strength of this novel that although there are still some questions regarding what happened to the wider world, it didn’t disappoint me that it wasn’t there.
There’s a rather western feel to this book, but that shouldn’t put anyone off. I could draw comparisons to a certain famous post-apocalyptic journey book, but I don’t think that’s fair as In a Handful of Dust stands out on it’s own due to the strength and depth of the characters.
As in Not a Drop to Drink, McGinnis does some very brave things with key characters, and it’s just another reason why I enjoyed this book so very much – as with the first, it’s a refreshing angle for a YA novel and it stands out from the slew of post-apocalyptic and dystopain novels because it is so brave and different....more
State of Emergency is a new adult romance post-apocalyptic dystopian. That's a whole bunch of very specific genres, and it's also one of the rare postState of Emergency is a new adult romance post-apocalyptic dystopian. That's a whole bunch of very specific genres, and it's also one of the rare post-apocalyptic books that also fit the dystopian bill (under my very specific definition), as the world goes to shit when a crazy bunch of dictator types take over the world after an EMP.
However, the characters are so inconsistent that I found it a struggle not to roll my eyes pretty much all the way through the story.
Cassidy is an isolated, directionless young woman, trying to find a job after not going to university, when an EMP strands her in the middle of the city. Upon arriving home, she jumps in her EMP-proof car and starts the drive to her father's cabin in the country. Now, Cassidy and her father are preppers which is fine and consistent with the EMP-proof car. However, Cassidy has never shot a gun in her life, and in fact later in the story refuses to, only to later on pick one up and be a great shooter. Inconsistency aside, what kind of hard-core prepper that has a cabin in the woods DOESN'T have experience or at least an understanding of guns?
OK so she's a little confused when it comes to firearms. However, when the romance kicks in after she picks up an ex Navy Seal on the road, she is apparently so dazzling and beguiling that he throws out his years of training and experience and pretty much trots around after Cassidy, even when she has the most ridiculous ideas (yeah! let's go to a refugee camp, because as all preppers know, nothing bad EVER happens in refugee camps!).
Probably my favourite part of the story was Cassidy and Chris trying to survive on the road, in bad weather and encountering some crazy travellers, but even those interactions just seemed off - EVERY SINGLE PERSON goes ape-shit crazy within 24 hours of the EMP. Now I can imagine that there'd be looting, some panic buying and some megalomaniacs trying to take control when the authorities are helpless, but would everyone REALLY go all cut-throat-bandit-survivalist within 24 hours? I really hope not, and it did get a little tiring that pretty much every person they met had robbing and murder on the brain. And that Cassidy continued to walk into ridiculous situations.
Personality wise, she's also quite irritating - mentioning several times how she had no friends before the EMP, which I understood the first time she mentioned it - the more often it was mentioned the more I felt like it was just a way to make me feel sorry for her as a reader. And I didn't.
State of Emergency has an intriguing premise, a lot of potential to be a true post-apocalyptic-dystopian series which is rarer than you would think, and combining romance with such a desolate backdrop could have been a great juxtaposition, but in the end the inconsistency of the main character stopped me from truly enjoying it....more
Lil isn’t exactly your average teenager – she’s obsessed with the threat of a viral apocalypse, and stocks her families pantry with non-perishable iteLil isn’t exactly your average teenager – she’s obsessed with the threat of a viral apocalypse, and stocks her families pantry with non-perishable items whenever the opportunity arises. Although Lil’s anxiousness and paranoia is blamed on an event that happened a few months previously, I couldn’t quite connect how that would cause her to spiral into this obsession with preparing for the absolute worst. But then again, reactions to trauma can manifest in many different ways, so perhaps it could have been a legitimate catalyst.
In some ways, Lil’s behavior makes her quite difficult to connect with as a character – she’s so busy being hyper-vigilant that it’s hard to actually know what makes her an individual aside from her obsession. And her parents are physically absent for most of the book, which makes it difficult to figure out the family dynamic, but there are heavy hints that although they were aware of the incident that caused Lil’s paranoia and I really didn’t understand why they didn’t take more action considering the potential consequences of not doing so.
There is a lot of focus on the relationships with Lil’s peers, which I liked, but it wasn’t memorable – the characters just didn’t stand out as particularly individual or do anything that really defined them more sharply. However, they are solid – there’s no contradictions in their behaviour and their personalities and relationships feel rather realistic – just a little bit ordinary.
The plot of Pandemic is interesting, because it’s a mixture of a viral outbreak type apocalypse, which does get very intense and scary, and a character / relationships study. One thing that I did find a little odd was Lil’s lack of interest in what was happening in the wider world – she was very concerned about what was happening on her own doorstep, but given her level of paranoia I would have thought she’d have been glued to the internet and TV to gauge the worldwide effect.
Overall, I did enjoy Pandemic, despite feeling that sometimes the plot line and the characters weren’t completely logical. It was interesting to see how Lil’s paranoia actually proved to be the most sensible way to survive the pandemic, and how the characters interacted in times of stress....more