Yeah. That’s how this one is going to go. The expectations were high with this one. I first discovered this book when I found out it was being made in
Yeah. That’s how this one is going to go. The expectations were high with this one. I first discovered this book when I found out it was being made into a movie so of course I was all about getting the book read first. Especially when I realized this author also wrote one of my favorites of all time: The Secret of Nimh. Naturally I couldn’t find a copy anywhere but FINALLY! Some luck blew my way and my library came through. I started it immediately. I finished it within 24 hours. And now I’m sad.
First off, a few things you need to know. 1. This is a post-apocalyptic novel with not a whole lot of post-apocalyptic action going on. 2. If you picked this up based on the movie trailer, you’re going to be disappointed and/or confused because they have practically nothing in common. 3. There’s some animal cruelty that for once didn’t actually make me cry. Nah. I was enraged instead. And 4? There will be spoilers, but I’ll put them in tags.
We’re introduced to Anne who is sixteen years old and has been living on her childhood farm alone for the past year now. She resides within a valley that because of an inversion has escaped the havoc that the rest of the world has suffered. Her parents and two brothers went out searching for survivors after the nuclear war that happened that we never get any other details of besides the fact that it happened. They never returned. She’s cultivated a garden, has cows and chickens to keep from starving, and fortunately there is also a country store nearby that was pretty well stocked. Anne has done a pretty amazing job surviving all on her own but is understandably curious when she sees smoke in the sky indicative of a campfire. She watches it day after day as it gets closer and closer to her farm; closer and closer to whoever is lighting the fire to discovering her home. She retreats to a nearby cave with her dog Faro to monitor the individual and determine whether or not to let him know there’s one other survivor besides him.
John Loomis is a scientist from New York. His team was researching/developing radiation proof suits but there was only a single prototype in existence which is the only way he was able to survive the fallout from the bomb. Trudging through the remains of the Earth, he comes upon a strange sight: a green valley. After a year of walking, seeing nothing but Earth, the valley is a spectacular sight. He takes his helmet off and realizes he can breathe the air there as well. Unable to help himself, he dives into a small lake to bathe. Unfortunately, the stream that flows into that lake was still affected by radiation and he falls deathly ill.
Spoilers, ahoy!(view spoiler)[So Anne decides she can’t hide in her cave while she watches quite possibly the last man on Earth slowly die from the contaminated water. She brings him food and water and nurses him back to health. What does she get for her good deeds? Nada. Because naturally dude turns out to be a fucking creep. For weeks, Anne maintained the farm and even expands on her plans to include him in the future. And then one night he comes into her room to undoubtedly sexual assault her. She escapes and runs back to the cave that fortunately she kept secret from him. Sure, she’s only 16, but she’s taken perfectly good care of herself up till the point he showed up. In my mind, defending yourself is the reasonable response. But nah, instead Anne tries to make peace with the crazy man and still shares half of all the food and water she gathers. That doesn’t go over so well because apparently he intends to capture her so he uses her dog Faro to hunt her down. He at one point shoots her in the leg too. He’s a real pleasant kinda guy, I totally get why she doesn’t shoot his ass. At the end he finally gets Faro to follow her scent and the dog is about to lead him right to the cave. What shall we do? 1. Shoot the creeper or 2. Shoot the dog so he can’t lead him to her only home? YES, SHE SERIOUSLY CHOSE THE SECOND OPTION. Except she doesn’t get a chance to go through with it because she missed her opportunity. So she goes with her backup plan: run through the contaminated creek so that Loomis won’t follow. But of course the freaking dog follows her. “…instead of following my trail on the rocks he had plunged into the water.” What fucking dog isn’t going to just jump in the water but instead stand on the bank looking for stepping stones. Poor Faro takes his last swim and dies of radiation poisoning.
Z for Zachariah is actually an epistolary and is told via Anne’s journal entries. This style helped build Anne’s characterization and her day to day life before her peaceful valley was encroached upon, however, this style lacked in getting a proper feel on her emotions. She talks about her family that drove away, never to be seen from again, in a very disconnected almost robotic way. Even with passages she’s written immediately after shocking things happen, I still felt a disconnect from how it seemed like someone in her position would feel. It’s a post-apocalyptic book (much like recently read Blindness) which is more a study of human behavior rather than a focus on the reasoning behind the war that caused the devastation. This is all well and good but I felt the characters were very black/white with Anne being the good, wholesome girl and Loomis being the mysterious stranger that we never learn enough about to make his actions comprehensible. One could argue that his last year of surviving alone was enough to change him, however, Anne had to work just as hard to survive. The character study could have gone a bit deeper to better understand the inner-workings of these two characters since they were the only two characters in the book.
I wanted to love this one so much but unfortunately it didn’t happen. I kept thinking that there would be some final twist but I reached the final page without it happening. The ending left me feeling very indifferent and just as emotionally disconnected as Anne. All in all, it’s not the worst post-apocalyptic book I’ve read but it’s certainly not the best.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
‘The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock.’
In a seemingly normal town, ever‘The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock.’
In a seemingly normal town, everyone gathers together to conduct the annual traditional lottery. What is the lottery exactly? Well, you don’t truly discover the magnitude of its horror until the final passage. A lottery is typically a good thing but in this small town its anything but. Certain things throughout this short story hint at what’s to come: the nervous energy of the people, the implication that the lottery serves a purpose regarding the future of the crops, and the piles of stones that the kids begin to gather.
What made this story the most eerie is the whole mystery behind the lottery. No one truly knows when it actually started, why it ever started, only that it is and must keep going for traditions sake. It’s mentioned that other towns have done away with the practice and the idea is immediately dismissed as folly. Just the concept of not doing the lottery, of doing away with tradition, is enough to frighten everyone not knowing the possible implications not doing it would cause.
This patriarchal society in the unnamed village have the men draw the slip of paper that ultimately decides whether their family is the selected recipient of the lottery. The only instance where this differs is when the man is unable to attend the lottery (such as the man named Dunbar that was home with a broken leg) or if an elder son is able to draw for his mother if she doesn’t have a husband. Once selected, each individual (even women) are then given their opportunity to select their own piece of paper. Published in 1948, Shirley Jackson’s short story is a telling criticism of the powerlessness that women faced, and unfortunately still face to this day. While the idea of the lottery is clearly exaggerated, the idea of the strength and fierceness of traditions and patriarchy is extremely realistic.
‘Andy pointed upward. She followed the line extending from his index finger out into the dark distance. A single spark of brMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
‘Andy pointed upward. She followed the line extending from his index finger out into the dark distance. A single spark of bright blue, like a puncture in the black skin of the sky.’
Imagine if you had to grapple with the knowledge that there’s a 66.6% chance that the bright light hovering in the sky is headed straight towards Earth. Imagine if you were told that even if there’s a chance it won’t happen, if it does, you have only six weeks before it happens. What would you change? What would you do? How would you choose to live your final six weeks of life?
We All Looked Up centers around four high school seniors trying to find out who they are while struggling to look beyond who they’ve been defined as. Their attempts to do so take on a frantic state when the news gets out about the asteroid named Ardor. Peter is a star athlete with a steady girlfriend but is drawn to Eliza in a way that he can no longer ignore even if it means for once not doing what is expected of him. Eliza fought against being labeled a ‘slut’ but has since decided to simply be and do whatever she wants despite the names people call her. Her father is dying of cancer and her mother has abandoned them; taking pictures of the crumbling world around her is the way she finds to cope. Anita is a straight A student that has only ever done what her father has told her to do but has finally decided that for once it’s time she admit to herself that what she truly wants to do in life is sing. Andy is the stereotypical slacker that hangs with the wrong crowd and must decide for himself whether he’s able to continue following the pack or if he’s ready to finally wake up and make his own decisions.
While all four of these characters (and several secondary characters) were all stereotypical in their own way, Wallach adds an impressive depth to each one of them that I loved watching unfold. The story itself is almost stereotypical as well, with the asteroid headed to Earth and all of humanity faced with their impending doom. Dun Dun Dun. But this story managed to complete impress me with the route that it took and the ambiguous ending that will manage to leave you satisfied even when you’re still left with questions. Nothing is for certain, anything could change… you just never really know for sure about anything in life. We All Looked Up is an elegantly written and philosophical pre-apocalyptic tale that will leave you contemplating your own existence.
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
Morgan Stockhour is a resident of Interment, an island that has been separated from Earth and now floats above it in the sky. Internment possesses the
Morgan Stockhour is a resident of Interment, an island that has been separated from Earth and now floats above it in the sky. Internment possesses the ideal conditions of a Utopian society until the shocking murder of a young girl leaves everyone feeling unsafe.
‘You have all heard the warnings about the edge. We have been told its winds are a song that will hypnotize us, and by the time we awaken from the trance, it will be too late.’
The warnings to not peer over the edge, to look down on Earth’s people, have been drilled into all residents since before anyone can remember. Those that chance this danger are known as Jumpers and Morgan’s brother Lex is counted among the few to have survived, except he is now blind. Here lies my first issue. We end up meeting another of these ‘Jumpers’, a young girl, yet she ends up with a mind that isn’t “quite right” (something sounding a lot like epilepsy). No reasoning behind the differences in their injuries is given. But you’d think an island floating in the sky would have severe winds especially near the edge and you wouldn’t be able to be anywhere close to it.
The world-building is spent mostly on the culture of these people, rather than explaining the actual reasoning behind why an island just randomly detached from Earth and floated to a still livable position in the sky and not straight out into space. But basically the way the society works is there’s the evil group of leaders, a King and Queen, that seek to control all aspects of the residents lives including arranged marriages from birth. And then it goes off on a typical tangent with the evil plot being discovered and the subsequent plan to escape/overthrow those evil doers. It was hard to get a feel for the time period this is set in. The society seemed technologically advanced yet had the feel of a medieval type era with its arranged marriages and King/Queen rulers. But you would think it’d have to be set in a distant past since one would expect the people on Earth to fly up and make contact with the ‘island people’, no?
The slow, meandering pace of the introduction was an interesting first look into this strange society and could have worked were it not for the continued slow, meandering pace even after the murder mystery aspect was introduced. Even during moments when you would expect a certain level of excitement or tension were made inexplicably dull. Unfortunately, what could have been an interesting dystopian tale turned very predictable and far from original....more
Returning to the story of Morgan Stockhour, resident of Internment, who has now crash landed on Earth with no feasible way of returning home. With herReturning to the story of Morgan Stockhour, resident of Internment, who has now crash landed on Earth with no feasible way of returning home. With her is her betrothed, Basil, her best friend, Pen, her brother, his wife and Celeste, the princess of Internment who was a stowaway. Shortly upon their arrival, the group learns that Earth isn’t necessarily the safe haven they had hoped for and is actual in the middle of a war that unknowingly involves Internment.
In this middle installment, we’re given a brand new environment to understand but rationalizing won’t come easy. Here on Earth, Kings rule even though it seems like the setting is sometime in the 1920s. There’s speakeasies and silent movies but then out of nowhere, a mermaid is spotted. The worldbuilding is focused on much more in this installment but with all the descriptions given it’s still not fully explained.
The characters themselves and their various backgrounds are delved into more in this installment. Morgan still acts as narrator, but considering there isn’t much of a plot going on for the most part, her narration managed to drag this story down even more. Regarding the lack of plot, the characters spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for something to happen. Inevitably, drama gets stirred up, a love triangle develops and friendships are tested. This could have all been an interesting addition to this dystopian tale, however, that would require you to have been invested in these characters from the very beginning of this trilogy and I unfortunately was not.
Burning Kingdoms is the second installment in The Internment Chronicles and it definitely suffers from a slower pace and lack of plot. For me, it’s been frustrating with how unsatisfying I’ve found it considering the potential behind the interesting concept. The final story may provide some satisfaction but I think I’ll be calling it quits.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
‘It grows in the dark part of your head like a fungus. All the while eating holes in your brain until it’s a sponge full ofMy rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
‘It grows in the dark part of your head like a fungus. All the while eating holes in your brain until it’s a sponge full of virus […] That was what had happened to my mom. For twenty years, ever since the crisis, she’d been dying inside. A little more every day.
And maybe it had been happening to me, too.’
Finn has lived within the sheltered gates since he was born. The world outside is a complete mystery, yet the stories he’s heard has made him thankful for his safe and sheltered life. The safety is shattered when his mother spontaneously turns and he’s forced out into the mysterious world with a new tattoo; a plus sign on the top of his sign marking him as possibly infected. His only hope is to get to the military camp in Ohio where he can live out his final two years of incubation before he can be accepted back into safety. But two years is a very long time for someone who doesn’t know how the world truly is.
The way an author handles the scientific aspects of a post-apocalyptic novel is key. Some authors handle it head on and explain in minute detail and others leave their characters in the dark and simply focus on the survival side of living in the new world. Both work, but if you’re going to attempt to explain the scientific side of things, it best make sense. In this world, it’s been twenty years since the initial outbreak and no one has seen a zombie in fifteen years. Once infected with the zombie virus, the incubation period is apparently anything from twenty seconds to twenty years. So, you get bit, you might be good only for the next hour or you could be fine for the next twenty years, but nobody knows for sure. Since the outbreak happened twenty years ago, I’m not sure exactly how they’ve been able to successfully test that theory. It also isn’t explained how the outbreak happened to begin with, so the science of Positive was definitely lacking for me. One specific line about killing a zombie by stabbing him in the liver also had me baffled. Come on! Zombies don’t give a shit about their livers.
Also lacking, was the character development. Our narrator, Finn, is an extremely naive individual when we’re first introduced. Positive acts as his coming-of-age story in a world falling apart at the seams. He’s forced to figure out quickly how to survive and how to adapt his mind to the concept of how things truly work outside of the gates of New York City. In that regards, this story reminded me a lot of Ashfall with our young, male narrator forced to adapt to the new world around him. Obviously, all that was missing were the zombies. Similarly was the fact that both stories focused on the part where humans turn into a whole other type of monster as well. The issue with Finn was how quickly he managed to shed himself of his naivety. It could be said that the things he was forced to experience could speed along that process but it just didn’t feel like genuine progression.
The portrayal of female characters was pretty appalling as well. Positive has two main female characters for the most part; one played the role of enemy and the other was meek and submissive (there was one strong female that made a brief appearance but it wasn’t enough to satisfy me in regards to the way the rest of the females were portrayed). The submissive one, well, I suppose it could be argued that she was strong in her own way and got Finn and the rest of their party out of a few sticky situations. It could also be argued that being a victim of abuse led her to this mind frame and that it couldn’t be helped but... (view spoiler)[even when she turned on her ‘master’ and I was praising her strength for finally standing up to the abuse, she instead turns around to the next male in the room and basically accepts him as her new master without any hesitation. I mean, serious? Come on. I understand the survival instinct to ally yourself with a strong individual but Finn couldn’t save his own ass let alone everyone else. (hide spoiler)]Was it really so much to ask that we couldn’t get one strong female main character in this giant 450 page story?
Unfortunately, even setting aside the issues I personally had with Positive, what really lessened my enjoyment of this story was the fact that I have read so many stories in this same genre that were simply so much better. Positive didn’t manage to bring anything new to the genre and didn’t have much in the way of originality, but newcomers to post-apocalyptic stories will likely find more enjoyment than I did.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more