I bought this book primarily because of it's plot - a natural disaster in the 1920s is a combination of two kinds of books I love to read so it was loI bought this book primarily because of it's plot - a natural disaster in the 1920s is a combination of two kinds of books I love to read so it was logical that I wanted to read it. And although it wasn't exactly what I expected, I was hooked from the first page.
The characters are typical small-town folk - Paul runs the local lumberyard, his wife and mother keep house and his three young children attend the local school. The family have worked hard all their lives, and are just starting to enjoy the fruits of their labours when the tornado hits and their lives change immediately.
My one and only small issue with the whole book was the characterisation of Paul's wife, Mae. In the first part of the book I had trouble telling her apart from Paul's mother Lavinia, although to be fair it may have actually been intentional to show the closeness of their relationship, however it did leave me a little confused on a handful of occasions.
If you're looking for an action-packed natural disaster thriller, this is probably not the book for you. The opener is a real blinder and I couldn't look away, but it wasn't the action and the devastation that had me hooked - it was the sadness, shock and confusion of the townspeople.
In the aftermath, the emotions of the characters were so pitch-perfect it was hard to believe it was fiction - every action and reaction felt so very realistic I could even imagine myself acting in the same way as many of the townspeople - jealousy, resentment and guilt were so palpable that I ended up feeling quite raw from all the emotions that were being so subtly revealed.
Falling to Earth is an intense book that focuses far more on the psychological reactions of the characters than I initially expected, and I have to say again just how impressed I was that Ms. Southwood managed to capture so many emotions and reactions so intensely without being overly-dramatic.
Another day, another distaster novel? Well, yes and no.
The most fascinating and different thing about Eyewall is the perspective. Mainly told throughAnother day, another distaster novel? Well, yes and no.
The most fascinating and different thing about Eyewall is the perspective. Mainly told through the experiences of the crew of the Hurricane Hunter that discovers just how deadly Hurricane Janet will actually be, there are also some parts that focus on a family trapped on the island Janet is stalking towards, and the meterologist who takes the biggest risk of his career in an attempt to save the unsuspecting residents.
Eyewall keeps the tension high, and the pace for the vast majority is spot on. The story of the family that finds themselves trapped is a necessary part of the story in setting the scene, but they were certainly not the characters that stood out - that honour goes to the crew.
Usually in such a book I like a wide range of perspectives, but I'm glad that Eyewall didn't have that - I was completely focused on the group that found themselves thrown together by circumstance, fighting to survive in the face of nasty Janet.
The ending was the only part that let me down just a little - there is a epilogue of sorts, but unfortunately it didn't really cover all the characters that I wanted closure on.
Overall, Eyewall is a good thriller - and one that I really enjoyed. Interestingly, the author is a retired meteorologist, and his way of explaining storm phenomena was incredibly well written and accessible, even to non-sciencey type people like me!
I love me a good disaster novel - terror, destruction, action - yes please! So when I picked up Wave, I was pretty excited to get reading. However, alI love me a good disaster novel - terror, destruction, action - yes please! So when I picked up Wave, I was pretty excited to get reading. However, although Wave is a quick read, it wasn't exactly what I expected. Yes, there was the varied cast of characters, the build up to the tsunami was well thought out, some science gave the plot a backbone, but I found that I didn't actually LIKE any of the characters - and in any kind of disaster novel, if you don't care about the characters as a reader, the tension just isn't there.
Firstly, a large part of the character story-line revolved around the corrupt mayor of Long Beach Island, and the political aspect is just not my thing. I found myself skimming over large parts of the narrative focusing on these characters, because I simply wasn't interested in what was happening to them.
The young lovers were sweet but the boyfriend was infuriating - reading about his emotional issues meant that he came across as a whining, insecure boy rather than a man that I cared about. Probably the only character that I actually found interesting was the slobby trailer trash girl who had an addiction to junk food and Jerry Springer, and pretty much did every stupid thing possible in the face of impending doom.
And the actual tsunami itself doesn't actually happen until the very end of the book - and although I appreciated that the author was trying to build tension, in the end it actually made the pivotal part of the story, the tsunami and the aftermath feel incredibly rushed.
I don't want to say that Wave is a bad book, because it certainly isn't. The writing is good, the science is well-balanced and the scenario is pretty plausible. It just wasn't what I was expecting, nor what I look for in a good disaster novel - ultimately this just wasn't the book for me.
Although the story itself is fiction, When the Storm Passes is actually set during the 2011 tornado which damaged 75% of the towns houses and killed mAlthough the story itself is fiction, When the Storm Passes is actually set during the 2011 tornado which damaged 75% of the towns houses and killed more than 150 people. This gives the book an incredible sense of realism, particularly when I finished reading and went and Googled it to find out more. Avalie's story is nothing short of harrowing, but also incredibly brave. At home with her mother when the tornado hits, she is later rescued from the rubble by two men and taken to the local hospital.
Realising that her mother has not been seen nor heard from since the tornado, she sneaks out and sets off to search for her mother herself, with her small, disabled dog as her only companion.
Showing incredible resilience and initiative, Avalie sets herself up to live in the house that her former neighbour inhabited, helped by local teenagers while keeping up the pretense that her mother is living with her, but is busy working in the local hospital. As time progresses, and Avalie's search for her family starts to really hit home, events threaten to overwhelm her completely.
Julie Jett has really built a story with characters that I felt an incredible sympathy and awe for. She perfectly captures the devastation wrought by the tornado, and the attempts of the town to support the impacted citizens and to rebuild their town.
Although it is a relatively short book, When the Storm Passes is chock full of emotion, survival and also the coming-of-age of Avalie and all the characters are realistic, down-to-earth people who care greatly about the well-being of their fellow townsfolk.
The ending is sweet and poignant and fits perfectly with the tone and message of the story.
I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Ashfall, when I read it in 2011. Mike Mullin's characters are likable and realistic, and the storylineI really enjoyed the first book in the series, Ashfall, when I read it in 2011. Mike Mullin's characters are likable and realistic, and the storyline is frighteningly plausible. With my own hatred for winter, snow and ice, this series pretty much reflects the most frightening of apolcayptic scenarios for me.
Ashen Winter picks up a little after Ashfall ends, with Alex and Darla working on his uncle's farm, trying to survive in an ice-entombed world, where little grows and the worst sides of humanity is showing it's ugly face. Again, I was pulled in by the characterisation of Darla and Alex, who both felt like real people, with hopes and fears for the future, as well as being perfectly matched in personality, and there were more than a few fabulously sarcastic moments. I did have the feeling in Ashfall that the romance between Alex and Darla was a little bit insta-lovey but Mike Mullin does present it in a way that makes it more realistic as people are thrown together in exceptional, difficult circumstances they form a stronger, more intense connection to other people around them.
New characters are also introduced, and one that I particularly liked was Ben, the autistic brother of one of the girls Alex meets on his journey. I loved the fact that Mike Mullin used an autistic character, and his research into creating Ben was very detailed and added an extra dimension to the story, whilst helping with some of the plausibility.
Ashen Winter is a non-stop ride from the first pages - as Alex and Darla search for clues to the locations of his parents, encounter some hideously twisted survivors and return to places visited in the first book, I tore through the pages, unable to put the book down because I just wanted to see what happened next.
My only (small) complaint is that at times the things that they were able to achieve without freezing to death or getting killed seemed a little unlikely. Sure, Alex is a Taekwondo student and Darla grew up on a farm and has an inherent knowledge of machinery, but up against some of the resources of the more organised bandits, they got lucky more than a few times.
Ashfall is a great, realistic, post-apocalyptic series, that is based on a real environmentally catastrophic possibility, without the addition of paranormal elements or technological advances, with a real focus on survival and characterisation. Ashen Winter continues the series really well, without falling into second book syndrome, and I'll definitely be reading the next book.
Before I start with my thoughts on After the Snow, there’s a pretty big potential annoyance that I have to mention. TMore reviews on The Aussie Zombie
Before I start with my thoughts on After the Snow, there’s a pretty big potential annoyance that I have to mention. This book is written in dialect/slang – so if you’re a grammar Nazi, or have trouble ‘giving voice’ to this style of dialogue be aware that you might want to try a sample before buying. Having said that, this is something that I normally find more irritating than fingernails down a blackboard, but it wasn’t an issue for me in After the Snow and personally I wouldn’t have found the main character quite as fascinating if it had been written without the dialect/slang.
The world has become a place of ice, snow and blizzards, and humanity is scratching out a living on the very edges. The government has rounded up the remnants of society and put them to work for the greater good, trying to maintain the basics of infrastructure whilst throwing together ‘settlements’. Willo and his family are stragglers, living off the grid in the mountains, trying to survive, but at least they are together. Until one day Willo returns to the farmhouse to find everyone gone.
Determined to find his family, Willo encounters a young girl named Mary, on the edge of starvation and hypothermia in an abandoned farmhouse. Despite his need to press on and find his family, after some inner turmoil, Willo decides to try and help her return to the settlements.
The storyline of After the Snow is classic post-apocalyptic/dystopic YA – a strong, determined main character with an unlikely partner (I won’t say love interest as it definitely doesn’t start out as that kind of relationship) on a journey across a devastated country.
Where After the Snow was a different experience for me was definitely Willo. At 15 years old, he seems at times younger than his years, and at others much older and wiser – an imaginable reflection of growing up in a world so very different to ours today. Mentally tough and determined, pushing himself through physical exertion, is brave enough to face whatever comes along without any unnecessary dramatics and has a deep sense of responsibility and caring for the people closest to him. I found him intriguing, endearing and I couldn’t help but hope for the best for him all the way through until the end.
The world-building is excellent, and the writing is bleak, intense and free-flowing even during periods where the action isn’t exactly rolling at breakneck speed and there is a perfect amount of explanation of the environmental, political and socio-economic fallout of the new ice-age.
Ending with heart-stopping action and Willo realising some important things about himself, the world around him and his place in it, I highly recommend After the Snow to anyone!...more
The word ‘catharsis’ is the act of purging emotions or relieving emotional tensions, and in the case of this book, is more a purging of e 3 1/2 stars
The word ‘catharsis’ is the act of purging emotions or relieving emotional tensions, and in the case of this book, is more a purging of evil or bad influences. Set in the small town of Spring City, Catharsis starts by introducing a range of unique characters going about their daily lives as a severe storm closes in and quickly cuts the town off from the rest of the world.
As the story progresses and the residents become more and more isolated, the true characteristics of the townspeople, and the stories of the lives are revealed as tensions start to reach breaking point.
The ghosts of the town past aren’t the kinds that go bump in the night, but instead the type that gradually seep into the lives of the townspeople and begin to influence them to reveal their true colours.
There are a lot of characters in this book, some not being introduced until nearly the halfway mark, which was a little confusing. With each character switch (unless they were obvious stand-outs), I had to stop and try and remember what part they played in the story. There are a lot of bad people in this story, and you may question just how so many psychos ended up in one small town, but it is connected to the town’s past.
The writing is good and the creepiness factor is high, but I found the ending quite disappointing as it seemed too fast for the pacing of the rest of the book, and there wasn’t really a resolution nor a ‘to be continued’ kind of moment. The story itself would have benefited greatly from more background of the history of Spring City. Overall this is a good book, an interesting premise but needs a little more work to be a really enthralling read.
New Coastal Times is one of those books that I went into with a completely different expectation than was the reality. What I expected was a disasterNew Coastal Times is one of those books that I went into with a completely different expectation than was the reality. What I expected was a disaster story, with some fun but perhaps not completely real characters, and lots of death and destruction.
After Hurricane Walter destroys the small Floridian town in which Mia works as a reporter and her husband a doctor, she gathers up a small group of her colleagues, and they start on an epic road trip across a country that is increasingly ravaged by extreme weather, encountering religious crazies, a hippy commune that's been coupled together by a government trying to cope with over population and food shortages, and an organic apple farm.
However, New Coastal Times is far more than your typical disaster novel - the characters are incredibly realistic, and it's hard not to fall in love with them all - from the main character, Mia, who I found to be incredibly witty, to her dedicated husband and a cast of characters that they adopt along their journey to New York, all of them were distinguishable and unique. And although the situations they find themselves in could actually be incredibly dangerous, their outlook and friendships make it seem much more like a road trip.
Engaging, sarcastic and unique, I really enjoyed all of New Coastal Times, but most especially the characters. Ms. Callea did a wonderful job of writing a novel that sounds like it could have gone down the mediocre road, but instead comes out as a unique book in the post-apocalyptic genre.
Ashfall is one of my favourite genres, post-apocalyptic, and one of my least favourite genres (for many reasons), Young Adult. My aversion to Young AdAshfall is one of my favourite genres, post-apocalyptic, and one of my least favourite genres (for many reasons), Young Adult. My aversion to Young Adult novels comes from reading, or more frequently, starting to read, novels in the YA genre that feel far too simplified and clichéd for my tastes.
Having said that, although Ashfall is a YA novel, it all stands out as a great post-apocalyptic novel in a genre currently awash with new ideas and viewpoints, different events and outcomes and questionable ideas on the moral behavior of human beings in a crisis.
The story starts with Alex, a teenage boy left at home for a weekend whilst his parents travel to his Uncle’s farm, two hours drive away. Within hours of being left to his own devices, a super-volcano at Yellowstone erupts, raining ash over the town where he lives and the surrounding areas. Desperate to find his parents, and despite a serious lack of resources, he decides to travel to the farm to reunite with his family.
On his journey, punctuated by experiences with the good, the bad and the ugly of the human race, he meets Darla, a head-strong, inventive and determined girl and after a devastating event, becomes his travelling companion and girlfriend in his quest to find his family. The landscape is harsh, food scarce in an environment where all livestock and food sources have been smothered and crushed by the ash fall, buildings have collapsed under the weight of the fall, and the extreme change in the atmosphere has caused a severe, early-onset winter. People are, rightly-so, incredibly defensive of what they have, desperate to have what they don’t and are driven to the most extreme behavior imaginable.
There are parts of this novel that I found to be unnecessary to the story, and I found the ‘love story’ particularly hard to swallow. However, in the author’s defense, this perspective in any post-apocalyptic story is hard to convey convincingly, without falling into the almost inevitable clichés.
The challenges faced by Alex and Darla on their journey are fully imaginable and probable in such extreme conditions and are very realistically portrayed. Their experiences with the Army and organized humanitarian aid is particularly feasible in a world that has become ever more reliant on instant results and trade to maintain their current standards of living, with small stockpiles of food and supplies.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in PA, or YA that is a little more mature - but even if you aren’t into YA, you can easily overlook the parts of the story that may not be to your personal tastes if you are the kind of reader that can downplay the facets of the story that you find slightly clichéd.
I will keep an eye out for the next book in the trilogy. ...more
Natural disasters are the things that every PA fan’s dreams are made of. They’re realistic and possible and we’ve all imagined how we would survive ‘The Big One’ in whatever shape or form. And we’ve all seen The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 and Independence Day at least once. The Walk is the story of a normal, average guy, trying to make it home to his wife after his The Big One hits – an earthquake in LA. Marty thinks he’s got it all planned out, he’s not going to be distracted from his game plan of making it home, safe and sound, to his wife on the other side of L.A. No. Matter. What. But after a chance encounter with a rough, tough, bounty hunter at a still-functioning burrito stand, things are about to change in wimpy Marty’s world. Suddenly he’s no longer the hapless network executive just trying to make it back to his wife; he’s being dragged into every survival scenario imaginable and then some. Honestly, Marty is a bit of a twat – he’s selfish, unwilling to get involved in helping others and thinks he is far above his current situation. But Marty is also a reflection of how the majority of us would react in a similar situation, scared and terrified of pooping his pants (you have to read The Walk to understand this reference!). As the story progressed, I felt a lot more sympathy towards Marty – I wouldn’t be the ultimate action hero either, and his drive to make it home is truly admirable. The Walk is written in a way that drags the reader into the ruptured, disrupted and disaster-struck LA, with terrifyingly real situations that you can completely imagine yourself encountering on such a journey. In closing, I really enjoyed The Walk – there is a twist that I guessed a fair way before it was revealed, but for me that actually added to the experience in waiting to see when the twist would be revealed. ...more