I devour the same books I enjoy writing: science fiction, set in an apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic or dystopian world. I love stories about regular people being thrust into extra ordinary circumstances, and having to rely on their own cunning and that of others to survive. And I love a twist at the end.
My just released Ashfall Apocalypse, as well as previous series Madness, Highway and Stone Age are those kind of stories. They're fast moving, have some regular (and amazing) characters who must make life changing decisions, all while the world is experiencing an apocalypse.
Besides writing, my wife and I travel the world (often to research the next book). But often you can find me on a beach, Kindle in hand, with my Toes in the Water (name of my publishing company).
This was a very quick read and i read most of it in a single sitting. I read a lot of books in this genre, so in comparison I would say the following:
1. Story - matches a lot of other stories in this line of SHTF fiction. 2. Setting - I really enjoyed the setting. Set in Mexico, I think its an interesting jumping off point for the rest of the series. 3. Characters - Likeable. One dimensional for the most part. You have your cranky prepper who sees it all coming. Your father figure. The bad guy (Mexican dug cartel), various kids all with one dimensional characters at least so far. 4. POV - I liked the changing POV from the scientist, to the space station, to the drug cartel, to the story's protagonist 5. Premise - as believable as any other prepper fiction i guess. Coronal mass ejection is a very real possibility. 6. Conflict - came very late in the story. 7. Ending - very abrupt.
Overall I enjoyed the book and I will read the second in the series when it comes out.
Certainly did get my attention, and held it throughout. But there are many story lines that will be continuing in consecutive volumes and right now, just not in the mood for a long, drawn out series. I did enjoy this story though, and was sorry that it ended as quickly as it did, and definitely with a cliff hanger.
I do not tend to review books very often, particularly ones I did not enjoy. I suppose I believe in the saying "if you do not have anything nice to say, just don't say anything."
In this case, however, I felt it might be helpful to add a review of this book. I believe that the author shows promise and could benefit from reading reviews of this kind. In addition, people like me, who were intrigued by the post-apocalyptic and original sounding story material will benefit from knowing that this novel has either been edited improperly or not at all.
As an author of several short stories and several upcoming ebooks,I'd like to point out that I have no particular problem with a novel that has some minor errors. I know very well how expensive it is to hire an editor and how time consuming it is to proof-read and edit by oneself. I'm perfectly happy to let typos, occasional misspellings and the odd grammatical error slide. The lack of editing, however, became an absolute distraction and I found myself ignoring the story in order to keep an eye out for the next mistake. As hard as it is, it's simply a necessity to edit a book that is posted for sale. If it isn't possible, for whatever reason, to edit yourself, find someone who can help!
Throughout the book there are many obvious sentence structure and grammatical errors. There are words that are used improperly. There are words and sentences that I had difficulty deriving meaning from at all. Sentence after sentence ends in preposition. Homonyms such as "there, their and they're" are used improperly. In addition, the author has a lot of difficulty with tense. Future, past and present tenses often appear together within one sentence.
As a personal comment rather than an editorial one, I found the dialogue within the book to be distracting, two dimensional and unrealistic and sometimes even laughable.
Additionally, some description and plot-points that might otherwise have been interesting or offered much needed insight into the character or plot development are swept under the rug. Often, I found myself encouraged by the descriptive and accurate (at least to a layman) depiction of the science driving the story. At other times, however, I was discouraged by the apparent carelessness with which this was treated.
An example of many of the problems with sentence structure and over generalization is the paragraph/spliced sentence:
"His thinking was that, if he brought in other scientists and students, who shared a common focus of study, coronal mass ejections and solar flares and their deleterious effect on Earth's inhabitants, they would be able to learn more about the science and continually warn the world so it could prepare for the inevitable. Science was the necessary part of CMERI's mission..."
On to the good:
The reason why I decided to review this book rather than simply delete and ignore is because the story itself, and even some of the writing, shows promise. The characters need work, the dialogue needs a lot of work and it needs a lot of editing but the overall story is actually interesting. It is a fairly original story compared to any others I've read and the science behind it appears to have been well researched.
As a teacher and a graduate from a humanities background, I simply could not get past the distracting editing (or lack there of). Writing like this would have been ripped apart by my professors and I myself would not accept it from the students I teach.
To sum up, with extensive editing there is promise here but at the moment, I had a lot of trouble getting through this book and could not purchase any sequel.
Stone Age by M.L.Banner is a great and different look at the end of the world as we know it. It's definitely not the typical virus or zombie apocalyptic setting. It's premise is what happens when we no longer have power and the consequences and how to survive . I love apocalyptic stories and was thrilled to read a different take on how it could all end. The idea of a world without power and all the conveniences we take for granted is an interesting and fun idea.
The story starts off with the King family planning a family vacation at their beach house in Mexico. The parents make their trip separately from their children and arrive to find their eccentric neighbor Max, an 'end of the world prepper' talking about the end coming soon. Their one daughter Sally who blogs and is into tech is following the strange events is on her way from California. Their other two children are on their way from their grandparent's home in Michigan.
While this is all going on Steve and his father are trying to crack a code into what the Cicada Project is all about. This is the central mystery that ties it all together. On the ISS we have yet more characters who soon become aware of the problems that will hit the planet. They soon become cut of from communications with earth. Coronal mass ejections or CME's seen as auroras are the problem. All electronic devices will be rendered useless and it is soon becoming an overwhelming problem.
Stone age has great characters who are all tied together in the overall ARC of the story. M.L. Banner does a fantastic job of moving the story forward while telling it within all of these characters sub stories. The science mixed with the science fiction of what could and would happen keeps you turning pages with anticipation. I devoured this book in no time and it was hard to stop reading until the conclusion. Stone Age is a great apocalyptic story and I am eagerly waiting for the sequel.
I purchased M L Banner’s Stone Age after viewing the Author’s promotion of the book on Google+. It was listed as an Amazon best seller for both dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. For $.99 I would give it a try. The plot centers on the effects of a corneal mass ejection (CME) on modern civilization. Banner references an actual event that occurred in 1859 and in the novel details the catastrophic effects a CME of equal, or greater magnitude would have on modern civilization. It is an interesting concept and a possibility that is supported by science. Stone Age is a light quick read. The most common criticism is that there is no resolution to the short book. Even though Stone Age is the intended first volume of a multipart work, one should expect some sort of (minor) resolution at the end of volume I. One would also expect the exit of a major character or two and the introduction of new characters as the story builds toward volume II. This does not occur. This a VERY light read. Stone Age was not an unpleasant read, and for me, was a passable “waiting room” book.
As I recall (I read it several years ago) a not too well written book about a subject that should concern us: the potential of major electropoclypse caused by Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), a Carrington-level sun spot, or Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) from hostile nuclear weapon exploded over the US. Far better book is "One minute after." Or is it "One second after?" addressing EMP specifically.
I tried to like this book. The premises was good. The execution was not. Here is an example of useless words slowing the story to a crawl...
Max took a big bite of his burrito. Fragile wisps of steam emptied out of the bitten end, slithering by his face, slowed slightly by the brim of his blue Cubs cap, before emptying through the open air of his Jeep into the soup of the city’s aromas. It was a blended mixture ranging from foul to delightful. A flavorful volcano of fire erupted in his mouth, an agreeable fire he doused with a big swig of the remainders of this morning’s freshly brewed coffee from his large to-go cup. Eyeing his dwindling burrito as a predator would its prey, he bit through the soft tortilla, taking in another mouthful. Truly, very few things beat the taste of Pablo’s burritos in the morning. Max was sitting in the driver’s seat of his Willys Jeep, left elbow resting on the door, hand holding the foil-wrapped delicacy. His right hand firmly held his plastic anti-spill coffee cup, or as Bil...
... The typical bustle of locals came by car, truck, foot, or bicycle. It never took longer than a couple of minutes to shout their orders in Spanish while handing Pablo’s wife, Maria, 10 pesos and then collecting their two foil-wrapped burritos from Pablo, leaving the same way they had come. It was the best deal in town for the greatest burritos. For less than $ 1 US, you would get two of either an egg-and-cheese or potato-and-cheese burrito. The only extra was a small container of salsa, homemade and equally tasty of course. The choices hadn’t changed since he could remember hearing about this place over 20 years ago; always available only at 7: 00 a.m., 6 days a week; and always a steady stream of customers. He learned that Pablo and his wife pre-made them and rolled them the two blocks from home in their handmade cart. Every day since their first day, they sold out, never deviating from the successful formula that served their family so well. Max took another bite and then looked up to watch the steady stream of customers. He started unwrapping his second burrito. He counted the traffic and calculated that Pablo and Maria took in about 2500 pesos in 45 minutes, which meant they had to make at least 500 burritos each day. Burrito production took the whole Garcia family, Maria told him, including their four kids, starting the assembly line at 4 a.m. They needed to purchase the cheese, milk, potatoes, and spices, and the foil for wrapping, but the eggs came from an uncountable number of chickens in their back yard. The tortillas were made fresh every night by Maria and their eldest daughter, for use the next morning. The pushcart was also homemade, a combination of Pablo’s craftsmanship as a carpenter by trade and his father’s design. Pablo Sr. had come up with the ingenious scheme of hollowing the chamber surrounding the metal burrito storage area. On the sides and below were sliding steel drawers, each with little grates, which held hot coals from a fire they prepared the night before. Blah blah blah.
This apocalyptic novel is based on the premise of cornonal mass ejections (CMEs) hitting the Earth and destroyed virtually all power sources. It centers around Max, a man with a lot of money who has been preparing for this for a long time but also dealing with some very, very shady characters and the Kings, a family of three who are his friends and are taken under his wing to prepare.
There's a lot about what could happen, what is done to prepare and survive and then what actually happens when the CMEs start to hit. Fires, electrocutions, planes crashing and explosions become the norm.
The question becomes whether or not Max has made proper preparations and whether the Kings and their daughter can do what is necessary in order to survive. The descriptions of what happens when the CMEs hit are good and the characters are well done. We even get to see what changes in the future.
The only criticism I have of this work and all others like it (no matter the cause of the collapse of society) is whether or not there are enough people left to allow the human race to continue and to avoid inbreeding. Remember, in all of these scenarios there is great violence as a result of whatever went wrong. There is a limited food supply and virtually no medicine. I sometime wonder if the survivors of the event will some day simply die off and not leave enough humans to continue the race.
A massive CME, a family separated and a friend who wants to protect them. Max knows something is coming. Could be huge, could wipe out the world as we know . He must prepare his friends Bill & Lisa and their children from the destruction to come. How successful can he be? My favorite genre is post apocalyptic, dystopian scenarios. A few zombies every now & then!😉 This author is fabulous. The characters are relatable, the storyline is plausible & there is a nice setup for calamity to come. Who will survive? This is an enjoyable book. Would recommend to anyone who loves to read.😄
I was dismayed that it took half of the book to introduce characters. Then the real story began. I was disheartened that the main character was wealthy enough to buy his needs to survive. I would have rather it have been a common joe like myself. One can't really identify or learn from one who uses money rather then creativity and work how to survive such an event. I also hate the milking of a story and ones pocketbook by making it a series. I'm most likely not going to buy the next in the series. If I can't get the whole story in one book, I will just have to leave this story behind.
Several chapters of the science to back up the theory of CME decimation of Earth. A family of three, vacationing in Mexico, is friends with a man named Max. Max has made years of preparation a reality for himself and this family. Perhaps book 2 will have more words about the people and less about the science. I noticed few editing errors, until the last couple of chapters which contained many. Still a great and terrifying story.
Good storyline. I like to read post apocolyptic books. I did not like his character development at all. face value only. No development of them. I had no problem though following the storyline, as he goes from character to character. One though dropped off after their plane crashed. Have no idea what happened to them. Of course the first book was free and I will not be buying the others.
I received this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. It was a quick read, told from multiple POVs in different times, leading to some occasional confusion and backtracking on my part. The author warns readers about the devastation of a massive solar flare and our need to prepare. I'm not fond of cliffhangers, though, and this device was, unfortunately, employed in abundance.
I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters are great. While not a lot of action, there is an intensity below the surface that the author brings out with his words and it keeps the story interesting and leads the reader down a path to find out what is going to happen next. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
Now this is a scary, thought provoking story. It is entirely probable. It has happened before. This book was really well done with great characters, realistic situations, and some very real science fact to scare the pants off of you.
I've given this book three stars but I'm still not really sure if I actually liked it or not. I really liked bits of it but other parts of the book I really disliked.
Lets start with what I liked. I liked Max the prepper, who has his home on a Mexican beach, but is fully prepared for the disasters he believes are coming. His neighbours are Lisa and Bill, who are in their Mexican holiday home with daughter Sally on vacation and Max is ready to look after them when trouble hits. The other kids Darla and Danny are stuck in Chicago after missing their flight to join the others in Mexico. Another prepper called Wilbur lives on a rural ranch and he is about to get an unexpected visit from Steve and his dad. I liked these people and Darla's grandparents so I was certainly interested in what is going to happen to them during the disaster.
But the problem with this book is that there are other story threads running through it that I just don't like or don't get. Steve and his dad are trying to solve an online computer puzzle which gives us a whole chapter full of hacking, algorithms, prime numbers, open source programs, cryptology and digital steganography and so on that I didn't understand a word of, cared little for, and was bored to tears by. I nearly quit the book at that point. They are on some kind of quest which will lead them to some kind of secret society or something and this plotline bored me. I also don't get what is going on with Gord. It is not clear who he is, what he is doing or when his story is set in relation to the others we are following. That part was just plain weird.
What I really want to do is just follow the groups of people I like through the solar flare disaster story but it just gets over-complicated by too many other things going on. We get a full back story on Max and his drug cartel contacts but I can't keep track of who is in what drug gang and who hates who or who Max does favours for. The whole 'what is Cicada' side story is also confusing and it isn't helped by the jumping POV and timeline, leaving you unsure at times what is going on.
There are some good elements and good writing in this book but it feels like the author wasn't sure exactly what genre it was to be and kept adding other random stuff he found interesting. It makes the plot too cluttered and confusing. As much as I'd like to know what happens to Max and the others, I don't really want to read about the other things, so I won't be continuing with the series.
"Stone Age" the intriguing first book in this dystopian series begins with Dr. Carrington Reid's prediction of a corneal mass ejection (CME) that will devastate the Earth. Like a few preppers who have heeded the warning, in Mexico Maxwell Thompson has been preparing for the event for years to ensure that he and his next door neighbours the King family will survive. When Bill, Lisa and their daughter Sally arrive ahead of their other daughter Darla and their ten year old son Danny they immediately notice the aurora display at night over the ocean without any idea how the coming storm will impact their lives. But as the Event approaches and with Max's guiding hand they will have to adapt if they want to survive.
Set in a technological world dependent on power that faces destruction and chaos after it's hit by a solar storm not seen since 1859, threads of the story follow not only Max and the King family's struggle against the murderous plans of two Mexican cartels, but also the devastating effect on the crew of the International Space Station; farmer Wilber Wright's discovery of the Parkingtons in their crashed Cessna, and the rise of the Teacher a power-hungry, religious fanatic. The plot is fast-paced with lots of action especially after the world falls part in the aftermath of a terrifying event that leaves it traumatized.
Cleverly M.L. Banner integrates past and present with not only the imminent chaos of a CME event on modern day society, but the surprising effect of a previous solar storm on a miner in 1859 and on a wanderer in the Stone Age. Using the real possibility of corneal mass ejection (CME) in this modern age the author has added gun toting killers, fires, plane crashes and a small dollop of romance in a fascinating plot that grips the reader but leaves more questions than answers. Slow at first with the introduction of the main characters, the story heats late in the novel after the Event leaves the world floundering. Although most of the characters seem one-dimensional I expect they will become more complex as the story line progresses.
I liked " "Stone Age" a good beginning to a series that will get better as it progresses. I have rated it a 4.0 although it would have been slightly lower if the scale allowed.
For those who like survival type post apocalyptic books, with or without zombies, like me, you will like this one. It is a story of the King family (no zombies), who go to their vacation home in Puerto Penasco, Mexico (they call it Rocky Point) where they have been going for years and where they have made friends. The closest friend there is Max, who lives next door and also has two lots and a house across the street. He is a longtime prepper and is ready for the end of the world, which he predicts is coming. Then there are signs that he is right.
Meanwhile the King Family have a daughter, Sally, who does a blog and also sees signs of the aurora in the sky and gets hints of things happening that will take down the electrical grid.
The neighbor, Max, has been paying off the local authorities and drug cartels for letting him bring materials into the country to build his secret highly protective safe house. He takes Mr. King family aside and tells him if something happens to him that the Kings will inherit his house and that if something happens to the world, here is the key to my secret highly protective hideaway.
Two King family members meanwhile are supposed to be on a plane to meet the family in Puerto Penasco. But things happen and their course is changed.
Well written story, actually well edited, but my one complaint is the way the adult women are portrayed. The King wife and daughter are hysterical passive reactors. Especially the wife. I am a huge fan of strong women and hugely dislike the passive weak ones so this is my only complaint about this story, thus the four star rating instead of five.
It's a good story and I will be reading number two with hopes that the wife gets her crying hysterical self together and contributes something besides tears to the survival effort.
I don't normally write reviews for books, but I felt compelled to write a review about this one simply because i finished it with such mixed emotions. I bought this book and its sequel because one of my favorite authors, Hugh Howey, recommended it in his blog. The story was very good. In fact, I have never read a book that dealt with the same subject matter as this one. I work in the Information Technology field, and it was very interesting to read a story about what would happen if suddenly all the technology in the world stopped working. The story was well written and kept my interest throughout. The downside was that I don't view it as a complete story. I feel that M.L. Banner started this story with an agenda of writing multiple books. None of the stories that were started in Stone Age were finished. Not to mention, towards the end of the book, characters were introduced solely to fuel the sequel. I absolutely love books that are written in series. I have read a ton of them. The difference between those and Stone Age is that you could read all of those books singularly if you wanted to. If you read Stone Age as a stand alone, you would have no closure to the story. I also feel that, and this is quite trivial, he put the bonus chapter of the sequel before the Epilogue to make sure that readers would be engaged in the sequel before they finished the first book. Having said all of that, I am going to start reading the sequel in about 5 minutes. I want to know what happens to the characters introduced in Stone Age.
This book was pretty much the exposition for the next book. Fairly slow exposition that did not make me want to get the next book. I'm not invested in the characters. This may have to do with the narrator. I had a few problems with his narration, from mispronunciations (hay is not pronounced the same in Spanish and English) and bad accents to painfully nasal and valley-girl-esque voices for all the women. The young, nerdy computer guy voice for the extremely handsome love interest was also a bit jarring.
For the amount of time we spend with the characters, they all seemed to have one personality type and therefore reason to be in the story. The love story felt extremely forced; it was not infatuation, it was love, and it was immediate. Not buying it.
The chapters that had nothing to do with the main storyline, vignettes showing off other experiences, were quite good by comparison. I would read short stories by this author, but I will not be picking up another novel.
I won this book through a Goodreads contest and started it shortly after I received it. I love the premise and the story starts off well but in the end it’s not enough for me. This is book one in a series so it does a great job setting the stage and meeting the characters but the story in this book is lacking. It’s well written and the characters are liable, but plot doesn’t move along far enough for me and there is very little action. I think the series could be very good but you have to commit to reading more than just this one book.
It is a good concept for a story. The characters need to be better developed though This is a doomer story about a CME occurring -it is the first book in a series. The story follows one family and his neighbor, Max. Max has been expecting "something" to happen and has made elaborate "prepping" plans. This first book in the series is a development of where they all are when the first CME occurs and everything goes dark.