I liked the first book in the Fallen World series, The Way We Fall, despite the first half being incredibly slow moving and little 'light' for my persI liked the first book in the Fallen World series, The Way We Fall, despite the first half being incredibly slow moving and little 'light' for my personal tastes. The second half was a big improvement and by the end I could appreciate the book in full. So although I wasn't rushing out to buy The Way We Fall, I was interested to see where Ms. Crewe took the story next.
The Lives We Lost starts almost immediately after the end of The Way We Fall, and it wasn't long before the characters and storyline came back to me, in the most part. There isn't really any kind of recap, but the plot is pretty straightforward so it's not really necessary.
I do like that Ms. Crewe has a racially diverse cast of characters, although it's only briefly mentioned in parts, it's enough to make them feel like a more realistic representation of a group of people trying to survival a viral apocalypse. Kaelyn is a tenacious, brave girl and I really liked her determination to continue with whatever she has set her mind to, and each of the other characters are solidly written and stand out as individuals.
Perhaps it is my cynicism getting a little out of control, but the seemingly inevitable love triangle appears to be taking hold on this series, and although it's not my favourite plot device, it's not overly prominent which makes it a little easier to digest.
Compared to The Way We Fall, the pacing is significantly more even in The Lives We Lost - there is a focus and purpose to the characters' journey and again there is a range of humanity from the helpful to the downright evil that makes it feel realistic, despite the actual premise of the series being slightly unbelievable.
The Fallen World series is another one that I've enjoyed so far for what it is, but it's never going to make my list of top post-apocalyptic YA novels - it's well written and has diverse characters but otherwise there are too many cliches to make it outstanding.
What would happen if a virus decimated most of the worlds population, leaving the remnants of humanity to fight it out over territory, food and women?What would happen if a virus decimated most of the worlds population, leaving the remnants of humanity to fight it out over territory, food and women? After the Virus takes a popular idea and gives it a unique twist by taking two formerly famous people and throwing them together in a world torn apart by greed and desperation, with some freaky Infected thrown in for good measure.
Opening with a tense escape scene, as Rhiannon flees her captors who are using women as baby-machines, we are introduced to a strong, haunted character who underneath a sarcastic shell, is really just looking to survive quietly and away from the violence that seems to follow her wherever she goes. I really liked Rhiannon - getting inside her head, and the way that she fought for the people she cared about, all the while dropping snark bombs like they were going out of fashion. There is also a thing that she does early in the book that immediately endeared her to me.
The romance between Will and Rhiannon felt natural and realistic, and they complimented each other perfectly, with Rhiannon's self-projected hardness, and Will's calm, dedicated nature. Whilst not exactly zombies, The Infected, and the way that their 'handlers' sustain them, is truly terrifying, particularly how far some of them go to keep them 'alive'. Although some scenes in After the Virus are shocking in the depravity of humankind, it is a plausible scenario - do we really know people would react to the disintegration of law and order?
After the Virus sucked me in and didn't let me go - the writing was great, the characterisation excellent and the plot kept me on the edge of my seat.
Remember high school? Yeah I hated it - I was one of those kids that never really fit in anywhere, not smart enough to be a nerd, not tough enough toRemember high school? Yeah I hated it - I was one of those kids that never really fit in anywhere, not smart enough to be a nerd, not tough enough to be a freak and not cool enough to be popular. So when I read the synopsis for Quarantine: The Loners, I was immediately drawn into the idea.
Quarantine: The Loners dives straight into the action, with an explosion and the death of all adults, the kids are quarantined by the government and pretty much left to their own devices - food and supplies are dropped in on a regular basis, but there isn't a whole lot of solidarity going on - instead the kids split up into gangs and try and gain enough control to survive.
The pace of Quarantine: The Loners is pretty much non-stop - there are some flashbacks to life before the quarantine, but the vast majority of the story takes place in the present. For a book of over 400 pages, I read this over the space of two days because I just had to read 'one more chapter' to see what happened next.
Mr. Thomas doesn't shy away from some pretty intense scenes - this is a violent story, and not everyone makes it through each skirmish between the gangs, and the deaths and injuries are pretty grisly, but that does add to the realism.
I did have some issues with the timelines - there are jumps in time that aren't really easily identifiable, and it's only after reading a few paragraphs of the next chapter that it becomes clear that a significant period of time has passed. Particularly frustrating is the jump between the quarantine beginning and the next scene - I wanted to know HOW the gangs were formed, how they came to claim their particular territories and the first days of adaptation and survival would have made for interesting reading.
Quarantine: The Loners is quite an 'insular' story - there is not much information on what is happening to the outside world, or what has happened to the families of the students, but I understand that Mr. Thomas' focus with this book was the actual politics and actions of the students, not on what was happening outside.
Like other books with similar ideas to this one (Battle Royale for example), there is a large list of characters, but there is a particular focus on the main characters that does make them more memorable. I did however at times find the two brothers quite hard to distinguish between, particularly during the scene where they meet Lucy.
Overall, I really enjoyed Quarantine: The Loners - it wasn't perfect, but it was an entertaining, nail-biting read, and I'll be looking forward to the next book!
Kaelyn and her family have recently moved back to “the island” where she grew up before moving to Toronto five years earlier. The story is told in first-person POV through Kaelyn’s eyes, in the form of journal entries to her friend Leo. The actual story behind Kaelyn and Leo’s relationship is revealed pretty gradually, most coming in the second half of the book.
The first 1/3 of the book moves quite slowly. Ms. Crewe works hard at building the character of Kaelyn and her attempts to re-integrate into her former friendships and explains her relationships with her parents, brother, uncle and niece. The disease also starts slowly, infecting a few people at a time and kept pretty much on the down-low by her father (who is also the chief doctor and an infectious diseases specialist at the island hospital). As the disease starts to spread, the government imposes quarantine and effectively leaves the island to its own devices.
After reading through this first part of the book, I was firmly sitting on four stars – initially Kaelyn’s voice was a little immature and idealistic for a 16 year old, and I anticipated that the rest of the story would continue in those dumbed-down teenage niceties and all the important, loveable characters surviving to fight another day.
And then I got to the 1/3 mark, and all of my opinions changed. Kaelyn developed into a more mature, emotional and involved character – and the story started to get gritty and dark. Without giving too much away (if I haven’t already, sorry!), there’s no happy ending to this story – characters that you fully expect to be alive and kickin’ well into the next book are suddenly no longer there (through a variety of causes), and Kaelyn is literally defending her life and the lives of those she loves. The origins and causes of the disease are further expanded upon and the story continues to get darker and darker, right up to the very last pages.
The writing IS simplistic, but it fits perfectly with the pace and tone of the story – over-describing details would have stopped the heart-attack-edge-of-your-seat-I-may-just-cry tension and made the story far less believable. Although I understand journal-style books can be off-putting to some readers, it does fit perfectly with the book.
In conclusion, I’ve struggled to rate this book. As I said earlier the first 1/3 was heading for a 4-star review, but the remaining 2/3 was solidly in 5-star territory and I’ll be looking forward to the next book in the series....more
It's been a long time since I've listened to an audiobook - I love them but it needs to be exactly the right book with exactly the right narrator otheIt's been a long time since I've listened to an audiobook - I love them but it needs to be exactly the right book with exactly the right narrator otherwise I wander off into dreamland and then miss parts of the story. But this is an excellent choice for an audiobook - an emotional, captivating story with neutral but engaging narrators.
The plot of The Things That Keep Us Here is pretty straightforward - an outbreak of bird flu causes panic as the disease reaches the US, and Peter and his graduate student end up living back in the family home with Ann and her daughters. As the crisis deepens they make the decision to effectively barricade themselves inside the house and avoid the outside world in attempt to not expose themselves to the disease. The main focus of the story, however, is the emotional reactions of Ann, Peter and to a lesser degree, their daughters. As Ann struggles between despising and feeling sympathy for the student, her first priority is for the health and happiness of her daughters - keeping them isolated from potential disease carriers, fed, watered and maintaining a sense of normality in an increasingly desperate situation. When events outside the house start to force their way inside, both Ann and Peter start to take more risky decisions and actions.
I felt a connection with all of the characters, especially Ann who is haunted by her own personal demons - she appears cold and unemotional but is simply keeping all her feelings inside so as not to upset other people. Her determination to protect her children through the crisis pushes her into situations that she finds disturbing and difficult, but still maintains the facade of a loving, kind mother. The personalities of Peter and their daughters shine through in the writing without needing an explicit explanation.
The world-building is done mainly via media excerpts - which is completely in line with the story as the family's isolation means they have no access to information about what is happening in the world, and this builds tension as I also had to try and imagine exactly what was going on outside their home.
The Things That Keep Us Here ends with a real climax - the kind where you just can't tear your eyes (or in my case, ears) away, and I certainly hadn't expected the story to play out as it did.
My only negative point was the epilogue - although it did round out events in the book quite well, it did lack some of the information I wanted to complete the story.
I believe this would also captivating read on paper - I'm tempted to buy the paperback version and re-read it myself!
If Goodreads allowed it, this would be a 4 1/2 star review.
The Jakarta Pandemic is a story of one of the most terrifying possibilities – a global fluIf Goodreads allowed it, this would be a 4 1/2 star review.
The Jakarta Pandemic is a story of one of the most terrifying possibilities – a global flu pandemic racing across the world, devastating food supplies, electricity and telephone service, law and order, and most scary of all, medical care for those who have contracted the flu.
Vigilant, organized and more than a little paranoid, Alex has been preparing for such an event, and has everything all planned. However, fear and hunger drive other less-prepared people around him to take desperate measures.
The story doesn’t kick into high gear for quite a long time, but it still kept my interest – particularly the news reports and specialist interviews which give a lot of information on the beginning and progression of the pandemic across the globe and the preparations made by Alex and his family for their self-imposed quarantine.
The main characters, Alex and Kate Fletcher, are both likeable, and their interactions are believable and sometimes even amusing (hard to achieve in a book with such a somber story), and the secondary characters are a perfect mixture of likeable, annoying and slightly creepy. And once things get dicey, their true colours emerge.
The Jakarta Pandemic is well written – the dialogue is believable and fluid, the story is engaging and entertaining and the focus on the lead-up to the pandemic helps to build tension without being preachy.
My one (very) minor criticism is the overly-detailed descriptions of the neighbourhood, what characters are wearing, and what they are eating etc – I don’t really need to know what colour pyjamas Kate was wearing every day!
Full review on my blog: theaussiezombie.blogspot.com ...more
I purchased The Flu thinking it would be an OK read. A filler if you like, something easy to read on my daily commute. But I was wrong - very wrong!
ThI purchased The Flu thinking it would be an OK read. A filler if you like, something easy to read on my daily commute. But I was wrong - very wrong!
The Flu immediately plunges you into the story with characters that are incredibly likable and not the usual infallible types that are predominate in the post-apocalyptic genre. They are normal people with normal lives, and have the same feelings and fears that you can imagine yourself having in such situations.
The story is free-flowing and addictive, easily understandable and not bogged down by the scientific explanations that can make such novels a bit of a chore in places. I read these type of novels for fun, not an education, and The Flu has a big tick in that box.
Now, I do have to mention the errors, spelling and grammatical in this book. But in the end, I didn't care - the story is good, the characters great and these small issues did not distract me from that.
I will definitely be purchasing more of Ms. Druga's stories in future. ...more
Starting with a prologue in January 2000, a global pandemic smacks down the population of New York, changing the life of Chris in an instant. Estranged from his family and friends in the UK, Chris finds himself suddenly and unexpectedly alone in a world turned on its head.
Breakdown is the story of the fall-out of the epidemic, six years on. Life is fundamentally changed, trading and bartering is back in vogue and families stick together, living in the same house and working together to survive day-to-day life.
The unique side of Breakdown is in exploring the emotional toll of the epidemic that has changed the world and the dynamics of friendships and family relationships. Emotion is high, loyalties are radically changed and priorities have been re-assessed.
What I particularly loved about this book are the characters. They are damaged, changed and, against all odds, positive people – not only trying to survive but thrive. Family bonds are strong, love is more meaningful and the basic things in life are what the characters live and strive for. ...more