This book was a fair read but didn't exactly exceed my expectations. I tend to be critical but honest and feel the need to emphasize this is my person...moreThis book was a fair read but didn't exactly exceed my expectations. I tend to be critical but honest and feel the need to emphasize this is my personal take on the book. To me a You Choose zombie adventure sounded riveting but this book was absolutely put downable. I felt one major reason for this was the author's strange decision to give 'You' a personal backstory- recently divorced rediscovering the world type- but not a name. I also don't recall being given a gender other than a small male illustration which accompanied the text at one point. The sexless personality-free You guides the story offering physical descriptions but is emotionally vague. I understand this type of book is one where you are put in the story to make decisions, but I feel this could have been executed in a much better way. I would have enjoyed a book like this with a very three dimensional character you help to guide, whether you find their personality compatible or not. Putting a name-less action piece in an apocalyptic scenario makes emotional detachment way too easy. I understand this style, and it's way more understandable when directed towards an avid-Goosebumps reading 12 year old but that clearly isn't the audience in this case. I think the apprehension over making a character of You needs to be lost to get to a really good book.
Another issue I had with the book was the decisions you were lead to make were not always very clear. For example, (view spoiler)[ there is a part in the book where you are given the choice between leaving an old woman or staying with her. You are not told you are leaving her somewhere safe so you can find help. You are also never given the option of returning to help her . I, thinking I was leaving her in the middle of an attack, stayed with her and died. Upon choosing the other option I find she is going to a safe place, but am never given the ability to go back for her. (hide spoiler)]
Now this is a bit of nit-picking on my part. Just some stuff I didn't like. Overall this isn't a bad book. The physical descriptions could be very well done at times, for example "You turn and look across the swimming pool, the water lit from beneath, surface dappling with the falling rain". I also enjoyed the occasional emphasis on how a situation felt, but again this emphasis was brief and hesitant in fear of giving the narrator too much personality to wear the readers shoes. I would have enjoyed a book jam-packed with personality, my meshing be damned. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book started quite strongly from Raven's point of view. Her narrative was strong and realistic. I loved the level of detail that contributed to e...moreThis book started quite strongly from Raven's point of view. Her narrative was strong and realistic. I loved the level of detail that contributed to establishing her as a real three dimensional character. Some instances of this would be the fact she used a paper towel to open a bathroom door, or her inner debate over drinking a soda because the pro of caffeine versus con of having to stop and use a restroom. These things might seem trivial, but that is the point. Raven is a person with trivial but interesting characteristics. The rest of the characters weren't as well established but they were not blatantly lacking and as a reader you do come to care for them. I felt especially attached to the lot of them when in the fray they continued to make logical decisions. Shocking, I know. For example (view spoiler)[ despite the macabre reality of their situation they band together and compile a to do and to acquire list, then set about getting things done to ensure their survival. They manage to fight off a bear and huskers without dissolving into puddles if hysteria. (hide spoiler)]. The characters are not the only example of this. While it tends to be glossed over in most zombie fiction, Larsen dares delve into the science of the zombie infection. He also does a swell job of continuing background events logically. (view spoiler)[ Health officials continuing to work and attempt to figure this all out while some take off. Ziggy, the police officer still doing his job, the town curfew and gradual sense of things getting out of control. (hide spoiler)]. My largest issue with the book is a tie between two cons. The less personal one would be the pacing of the book. It went by fast but it seemed slow, which is a fancy way of saying not enough was happening. Despite everything going to Hell no one freaks out or flat out mentions the reality of disease turning to cannibalism. While I appreciate rational characters, and more than that rational decisions, there is a fine line that when tread left the mains looking oddly unbothered by reality falling to pieces. I know this is a chronicle but setting the first act needs just as much bang as the last. While this is a big deal it wasn't the Dealbreaker which is really a matter of opinion. I don't know about you but I like my zombies behaving like zombies. I could live with the (view spoiler)[ weapon wielding huskers, albeit unhappily. And if I tried really hard I could get over the fact the walking dead were seeking out comfortable places to sleep. But (view spoiler)[ talking zombies? (hide spoiler)] That I cannot deal with. Then the ending came out of nowhere (view spoiler)[ and in addition to speech we have a zombie pack hierarchy, which is a nifty sounding theory but really lame in actuality. (hide spoiler)].
In conclusion it is a well-written book, but in my opinion took a wrong turn. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I am a bit torn between two and three stars here, I keep reaching up and changing the rating. Let me type up why I feel this way, then I'll see what I...moreI am a bit torn between two and three stars here, I keep reaching up and changing the rating. Let me type up why I feel this way, then I'll see what I'll do about the rating.
The beginning of the book started off strong. You could see the action coming and realized once the book got its pacing that there would not be much standing around. In the pro column the book did a swell job of that, it was brimming with plot and kept moving. When I started the book I was convinced it was going to be fantastic, and this was with serious reservations - I start most books with reservations. Some of my favorite things in the dawn of the book with the descriptions and occasional introspection.
(view spoiler)[ They just kept coming until you were dead. You couldn't plead with them; they had no feelings. Crying wouldn't do any good. (hide spoiler)]
(view spoiler)[ The creepiest thing I've ever seen in my whole life was one of those monsters that used to be a man, all tangled up in barbed wire and broken glass, frantically chewing its own arm off to get loose and join the feed." (hide spoiler)]
There seemed some promise in the characterization, they gave some back-story for Benji and he was relatable. Felicity while not entirely relatable was likable.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this seemed to stop completely or hedged down to the bare minimal. The main character, Xander, ceased to develop or evolve into much of a character. The physical descriptions seemed to drop down dramatically leaving you wondering what was going on. And what was going on? Really, not much in the background. Many of the explored places were empty besides a singleton zombie to move the plot along, or a very non-threatening horde. Where were all the zombies? Entire neighborhoods were empty. That aside, Xander seemed to be the only one to ever do anything in combat situations, and the things he did seemed very unrealistic. (view spoiler)[ For example at the end practically stepping into a horde as he dices up zombies left and right, managing to escape with a single (non-threatening) bite? (hide spoiler)] What bothered me more than that though was Xander just behaved like no one ever would. He was a simple character, and impossible to get into the head of. I have heard a lot of books that are written in first person tend to struggle with this.
There was no sense of urgency and the periods of grief were almost laughable. I thought this was limited to Xander but it became apparent quite quickly that it was not just him. For example, (view spoiler)[ Felicity, after however long she has been pent up in the mansion, gets it in her head that she should probably worry about her mother. She hasn't mentioned her once before this or seemed upset in any way about her. Despite what's going on, and what she has seen, she hasn't been in contact with her and assumes everything is dandy. When she finds her dead in her bed she cries for about a minute then is contently sitting in the back of the car telling Xander "Don't worry" about gas, joking around with Benji, and fixing her make up. One of the things that irritated me the most is at the blockade they have these people threatening to loot them, and Felicity's worrying over them kidnapping her and other understandable concerns. As soon as she finds out one of the guys is a fan she's checking her eyeliner in the mirror? Wouldn't any sane person in that situation continue to be reserved? (hide spoiler)].
Some more examples of them behaving like no actual person would- (view spoiler)[ Xander wakes up from his slumber, knowing about Jax heroin problem, sees everyone crying and goes "Did somebody die?". I get that he puts his foot in his mouth, but no one in any situation like that would do this, let alone in this situation during an apocalypse
Two separate times Xander thinks it through and decides he'll act like he's going along with his captors (the Nazi's and the religious group) just for a paragraph later to start slinging sarcastic comments at them and being obviously combative. Even Felicity does this.
Another issue with breaking character would be Benji. Benji considers Xander his family, follows him blindly, loves him. On a whim he decides to stay with the religious group. What also puzzled me here was that it seemed Benji was just a few years younger than Xander through the book, then suddenly he came of as a kid between 8-10 years old. I'm sorry if I missed something and he was young all along but either way the change in his behavior was striking. Even if the religious group had simply brainwashed him and he decided to just stick behind, he harbored no upset feelings when that all went to hell. These people are my family, hey they tried to kill me. Oh well, can we get something to eat?
Then the self-sacrificing thing... Out of absolutely nowhere Felicity decides to sacrifice herself for Benji. That would be fine if she'd shown a family attachment to him earlier but they had just a casual relationship, and maybe a single conversation about them being a family now. There was nothing to back this up. It became even more ridiculous when Darren, the man who let them sacrifice his wife, stepped up to sacrifice himself for Felicity instead. So his wife didn't jog that sense of loyalty but this bland child-star did? It was silly.
They figure out pretty quickly the religious convent is bad news. Time to plan an escape, right? Or, maybe time to question Felicity about her ex-boyfriend and be embarrassed over the girl I like seeing me naked. Again, it was silly.
Don't even get me started on the soldier speaking in riddles at the end. (view spoiler)[ "Things are not always as they appear in this world, nor are they otherwise." (hide spoiler)] What is that? That's the same as "It's neither here nor there." That's nothing. A space filler. That's what 60% of the book was.
I feel like this book started with an idea in mind, somewhere to go, and then before it even got halfway through it turned into a mad dash to The End.
Also there was a point where a zombie breathed. The narrator writes about their cold breath hitting his face. That pretty much sums it up. I'm going to go with two stars.
*I am thankful for the free copy of the book and the opportunity to review it. I hope my feedback is helpful. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I had high expectations for this book, I admit it, I am a big King fan so it's hard to admit this books getting just an E for effort. The concept was...moreI had high expectations for this book, I admit it, I am a big King fan so it's hard to admit this books getting just an E for effort. The concept was engaging but the characters, especially Richard, were flat and without much personality, the entire thing felt only half done and every action seemed backed by only supposed political motivation, they really didn't go into it enough for this to be believable. Big eh says me.(less)
Right off the bat I have to applaud Gillian Flynn for her severely flawed multi-dimensional characters. They're compelling even when they're not over...more Right off the bat I have to applaud Gillian Flynn for her severely flawed multi-dimensional characters. They're compelling even when they're not overly likable, this is just me drawing parallels between Dark Places and Sharp Objects. I want to applaud the author for that before I talk about the specifics of the book that loped off the last star.
Begin the spoilers:
(view spoiler)[ Diondra was one of my biggest problems. She was portrayed as extremely violent, murdering a bovine, leaving her parents without a second thought, and of course the cold blood mostly unmotivated strangulation of the oldest Day sister. She used heavy drugs and alcohol during her pregnancy, had no prenatal treatment - and yet still managed to have a perfectly healthy baby. Okay, overlooking the havoc drug-use does on a fetus, let's look at the parenting here. This is a girl who can't be trusted to pick up after a dog. I'm supposed to skip 24 years and just shrug over her getting up in the middle of the night alone with a newborn, as a single mom going from rich to on an exceedingly tight budget without any support and an extremely violent past? That was a very hard pill to swallow.
Trey's character was also very vividly painted. He was like clan-leader in violence, egged everyone else on, then ever so passively steps out. I understand you're supposed to be pointing fingers at him but the way he moved from cow slaughter to feed store had me clucking.
Then when I found out the Angel of Debt was responsible for half the murders I literally went palm to forehead. It just seemed, silly. Especially tangled with the fact that all these murders happened on the same night. Even Diane's reasoning about just wanting Libby to "try harder" after an apology that took 20 years to get to just seemed like an excuse, it was like all these loose ends got bundled into a functional yet mess of a knot.
That being said, I raced through the book. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. The first half of the book was exciting and hard to put down, even the middle flowed nicely, but at the end I was biting my lip a little harder with each page. It didn't come together right. Still, I liked the book and will read more from the author.