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The Judas Syndrome

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In a world devastated by an apocalyptic event,
the bonds of friendship are tested in the haze of
unrelenting depression, and paranoia.

Will you know who your friends are?

The Judas Syndrome is a frightening portrait of a possible future end.

Joel and his friends are on the verge of graduation and excited and optimistic about their futures. But when they return from a camping trip in the remote woodlands to find themselves faced with a post-apocalyptic world, their daily lives acquire burdens and terrors hitherto unexperienced.

The Judas Syndrome is an unforgettable portrait of survival against the odds. Joel, the protagonist, is a troubled youth whose dreams of entering college in the fall have disintegrated with the rest of the civilized world. Experiencing a barrage of sinister premonitions prior to a camping trip, Joel struggles to shrug them off as nothing more than anxiety over the newest cyber-terror, the Grimm Reaper. For months the Reaper has been inundating the airwaves with threats of mass destruction if world governments do not adhere to his plethora of ridiculous demands. Finally, he does more than just threaten.

The deed done, the Reaper’s threats now realized, Joel and his small band of friends find themselves alone in a dying world. Their families are all dead and gone, and Joel’s family home is now their stronghold. Faith and faithlessness are investigated as his ongoing visions prepare Joel for the realization that the worst is far from over. Prisoners to a darkened sky and toxic earth, the group fights to survive. Through battles staged on their hallowed ground, through loss and victory, the group meets the Pilate to their Judas, unwittingly setting in motion- the Judas Syndrome.

184 pages, Paperback

First published June 25, 2009

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About the author

Michael Poeltl

16 books219 followers
Killing karma is the latest Thriller from Michael Poeltl - A series of killings has cast a reign of terror over Detroit, and even the seasoned Detective Harlow has no idea what to make of them. As a cop, he understands revenge killings, but these homicides are taking the concept of payback to new heights. If you like a little noir with your crime fiction, this book is for you!

Killing Karma Reviews:
FIVE STARS "Loved it! Was immersed from the very beginning and couldn’t wait to see how it would play out." Rita from Goodreads
FIVE STARS "From the opening paragraph to the last sentence I was captivated; at times I found myself holding my breath…" David from Goodreads
FOUR STARS "A highly gripping tale that builds a believable world full of unexpected twists and turns." Madame from Goodreads
FOUR STARS "Such an interesting and fresh take on serial killers... absolutely loved the way the author intertwined the whole concept of past lives into the main plot. Every detail really added more to the story." Chanelle from Goodreads

The Blind Affect launched on June 22nd, 2021 to some great advanced reviews:
FIVE STARS “... a sometimes disturbing but always profound look at three characters whose lives take haunting courses... 'The Blind Affect' will leave you with a lot to think about.”
FOUR STARS “[Poeltl] doesn’t tell us, he shows us the lives of these characters. He shows readers what trauma looks like and what is healing. It’s a timely story...”

Other book reviews:
"A well-built fantasy world with likable characters." - A.I. Insurrection - The General's War - Goodreads
"The characters are 3-dimensional and realistic, with believable flaws, motivations and goals, doubts and beliefs.." - A.I. Insurrection - The General's War - Goodreads
"A great read for anyone who enjoys extensively built worlds." - A.I. Insurrection - The General's War - Goodreads
"The immense interest provided by the world, technology, action and characters kept me reading happily" - A.I. Insurrection - The General's War - Goodreads
"Very well done and I am looking forward to reading book 2." - A.I. Insurrection - The General's War - Goodreads
"Reading Michael Poeltl’s A.I. Insurrection is like watching a master’s level chess tournament." - A.I. Insurrection - Armageddon - Goodreads
"If you like book one like I did, you'll like book 2 even more. " - The Judas Syndrome - Book One - Goodreads
"As someone who writes myself, I can honestly say I'm jealous over that ending. I wish I'd written it." - The Judas Syndrome - Book One - Goodreads
"I had trouble putting it down the first night and finished it in one day." - The Judas Syndrome - Book One - Goodreads
"I would absolutely recommend this novel to anyone, and I can not wait to read more from this author." - The Judas Syndrome - Book One - Goodreads
"I loved that the stories were of varying lengths because it made it easy to read a quick story while taking a break. I definitely recommend giving this collection a read." - Waning Metaphorically - Goodreads

By 2022 I’ll have published 14 books ranging in genres, with two trilogies, a series, and many standalone books. It has been my absolute joy to rediscover the love of writing. To revisit those childhood freedoms where you can do anything and be anyone. I’ve also merged my love of visual arts with writing, including illustrations in a few of my young-reader books.

Discovering your purpose is a massive step in realizing your best life. Gifting myself the right to be an author has afforded me incredible growth as an artist and as a human being. I write with a renewed devotion to offer stories that inspire and entertain, stories with depth of emotion and original plots.

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Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa Poeltl.
Author 3 books5 followers
July 24, 2009
A very entertaining yet dark look at life after the apocalypse, through the eyes of teenagers who must navigate their new environment. I liked the undertones of religion, and the ever-present question of whether to keep hope alive in a seemingless hopeless environment. A cross between The Road and Lord of the Flies.
1 review
August 24, 2009
I did not think this would be my "type" of book, but I could not put it down. I became absolutely fascinated with the characters and their development as human beings. I found myself turning the pages with more and more anticipating as to how the story would unfold. I would absolutely recommend this novel to anyone, and I can not wait to read more from this author
Profile Image for Eva-Marie.
1,672 reviews127 followers
April 20, 2010
There are a few things that confused me about this book but overall I did enjoy it and I'd like to read the sequel that I saw that the author is writing.
In my opinion there were a few too many characters. They were hard for me to keep straight most times. By the middle I had a decent grasp on each and I have to say that each brought something to the story, but there definitely were many of them.
As for the few things I didn't understand - they were relatively minor but at the same time I did notice and it did affect my reading and processing the story. One was about the gas trucks tired - how were they okay? The second was when Gareth and his friends come back - after what came from that - how did Joel's friends not see that he had something to do with that? That I didn't understand at all.
There were a lot of parts I really liked - I loved how they all acted realistically, I liked the relationships and changes between the different characters, etc.
I saw someone else mention the "strong language" - in my opinion it can barely even be called that to be honest. And I don't use bad language all that much myself nor do the people I put myself around. When language like that is "useful" in a book I'm very accepting and as far as I saw it was never used for shock value here. If you get offended when someone says "shit" in front of you - yeah, pass this by.
Like I've said before, I'm not the more knowledgeable in this genre but I am enjoying it and I am looking forward to reading more and I am happy that a friend sent this to me. I look forward to reading the sequel.

**I forgot to mention that there are a few parts that are downright scary. I was sitting outside reading on my patio one night and I got to one part in particular and the next thing I knew I had swiped all my stuff in my arms and was hauling ass towards the house. For no reason. The book spooked me. lol I like that! (I like it now anyway, I didn't like it too much then.) **
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Rose.
Author 11 books17 followers
June 28, 2009
Although I don't usually read apocalyptic fiction, the internet buzz about The Judas Syndrome was so intense that I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did!

The Judas Syndrome is the story of a small group of teenagers who go on a camping trip to escape the pressures of school and jobs, only to find a burned-out, dead world upon return. Eternal night descends upon the globe. Darwinism rules the day, and only the strong survive.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Keryl Raist.
Author 5 books39 followers
April 30, 2011
Okay, so supposedly, when you see a bad review, it's a case of the book not living up to the expectations of whomever purchased it. That makes sense. You rarely see reviews that state something like, "I absolutely loathe horror stories. So in a masochistic fit I picked up Seven Co-eds Get Horribly Murdered In A Haunted House. It was a horror story. I hated it." (And if you do write that review, you deserve to be smacked upside the back of the head Gibb's style.)

No, usually bad reviews go something like this: "I purchased Seven Co-eds Get Horribly Murdered In A Haunted House because I love horror stories, and there were a bunch of great reviews. Then I cracked it open. I don't know what the other reviewers were smoking while they read it, but it didn't live up to the hype."

So, you see a book, you read the write up, you check out and the reviews and develop expectations. You read the sample and develop more depth to your expectations. Having done that, I expected The Judas Syndrome to be Red Dawn redone with a whole bunch of teen stoners.

Unlike the potential negative reviewer, I was very pleased to see my expectations were not met.

I'd say the first quarter of the book followed the traditional post-nuclear Armageddon script pretty closely. We meet the main characters and the secondary characters. We see them party and do a ton of drugs. They come home and find the world has been blown to smithereens. They huddle together for survival. Up until this point it looks like a sophisticated version of many teen fantasies of life hiding out with your buddies, an unlimited supply of drugs, no parents to kill the buzz, and enough danger to keep everything interesting.

And then the story begins to shift. We move from teen fantasy mode into metaphysical questioning mode. We go from nothing deeper than getting laid and the next joint to an in depth exploration of a psyche at the breaking point.

This is not a light fluffy read with a happy ending. The title, which I barely paid any attention to when I was thinking about the book before I read it, is a warning about how it's going to work out. Joel, is a frighteningly well done psychological profile of a man slowly burning out and arising from the ashes not a phoenix, but a devil. The world is gone. Family and most friends have died horribly. As the seven month course of the book continues, more friends die. This is more stress than most people could possibly handle, add in the paranoia inducing effects of large quantities of cannabis, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

It's a compelling read, heartbreaking, but emotionally very, very real.

There are however, aspects of the story I found jarring and out of place. Joel and his friends are too young. They're high school seniors, seventeen or eighteen years old. And while I do not subscribe to the belief that all teens are twits, I can say that all the teens I've personally met who were as interested in drugs and partying as these kids were twits. They needed more time to grow up. College seniors would have worked better, post-grad students, better yet. Basically, I just ignored how old they were supposed to be, and mentally advanced them to twenty-six ish, it made the story work a lot better.

What actually happened seemed quite fuzzy, too. We know the terrorist mastermind had nukes. We learn he had a lot more than anyone thought he did. We know Joel and his buddies live in some middle of nowhere farming community, 200 miles from the nearest big city. When they get back from their camping party weekend, they find town destroyed, sort of. People are dead, some of them. Some look like they died peacefully in their sleep. Some are covered in burns. Some are running around looting. Some places the buildings have burned and cars are toppled. Some are just fine. What happened? Is this some sort of fall out from a bomb over 200 miles away? Did the terrorist have enough weaponry to go after little, middle of nowhere farming communities? And why didn't any of Joel's group come down with radiation sickness?

Joel's home and a nearby barn are perfectly set up for surviving the apocalypse it turns out. And while I get Poetl didn't want to spend too much time dealing with the physical hows of survival, the set up was just a bit too convenient. It's not only that everything is already set up with generators, but that they also manage to find a tanker truck filled with gasoline so they could run those generators.

What Poetl did want to spend time on was ripping away everything Joel knew or believed about himself. He built his character up, turned him from a lay about stoner into a leader, and then as stress piled on stress, turned him into a paranoid addict. And from there things only get worse. As I said earlier, not a light and fluffy read.

Joel is the only fully developed character of the lot. And I'm not sure if this is intentional or not. We get the story from Joel's POV. So are two dimensional secondary characters an indicator of lazy writing or of Joel's inability to really see and understand the people around him? Part of the reason I'm not sure if this is intentional or not is that the writing as a technical matter of grammar and construction ranges from great to error prone. When I see technical mastery of prose, I assume that things like the shallow secondary characters when told with first person POV is intentional. When it's not, I'm not sure if it's another indicator of sloppy writing or an indicator of deep writing with limited technical skills.

Voice, assuming you pretend Joel is twenty-six, is well done. Action scenes are believably chaotic. (Though, as others have indicated, the sudden military prowess of a crew of high school seniors wasn't.) Joel's descent into self-destructive madness was extremely well done. You almost don't notice he's slipping away because he doesn't notice he's slipping away. The ending isn't much of a shock. Once you realize the title isn't kidding, and the last line of the description really isn't kidding, you know how this is going to end. And while not a shock, it still evokes the pain of losing a character you wanted more and better for.

More careful editing, and more attention to making the setting/characters match the gravity of what happened, and this would have been a five star book. As it is, I'm comfortable calling this four stars.
Profile Image for Jeannie.
528 reviews24 followers
August 13, 2009
This was such a good read, I was really impressed with the story line. It's a dark and brooding tale yet hope is interlaced throughout, at least up until the ending when things take a turn for the worst. I had trouble putting it down the first night and finished it in one day. That says a lot to me when I just can't let go of a story and finding out what is going to happen next. After finishing this book I couldn't get it out of my head and doubt I ever do.
August 30, 2009
This book was sent to me by a GoodReads friend (THANKS JEANNIE!) who thought I would enjoy it. It was not an awful story and I am glad I read it, and was grateful for the recommendation.

That said, I had a lot of problems with it. I love post-apocalyptic books, the whole survival angle of regular people dealing with life post-catastrophe-of-the-day. In this book, the main group of survivors, some teenagers, did a BANG UP JOB of living and taking care of themselves after the disaster. Too good of a job.

They had been camping in a remote location when the disaster happened, and made their way back to town after the fact. They set up shop in the home of one of the teens, whose house just happened to be almost a complete bio-dome: water, electricity, heat, food storage, etc., were not problems for them as long as they regularly scaveneged to keep stocked. Lucky them. SMART them.

Now, I am not saying kids/teens are stupid, but seriously, what teenagers that you know immediately begin to not only grow food, but become expert soldiers and marksmen and approach a life or death disaster situation like a veteran military officer??? They even won several battle skirmishes by approaching the battles as trained, battle hardened soldiers. At the age of 17. Uh huh.

These kids immediately collected weapons, ammo, set up guards, built fences, maintained a hydroponic farm, intelligently dealt with serious battle wounds, it goes on and on. Even the way these kids spoke was not believable. The majority of the teens spoke with the voice of a seasoned middle aged man or woman and had a maturity far beyond their years. I tried suspending my belief, of course, but I just couldn't believe that these KIDS would have reacted like this.

In the background of all this are ghosts, mysticism, religion, angels, a talking, stalking three legged skunk, emerging cults, and lots and lots of drugs. Now, the drugs part was quite believable. I could really believe that a group of kids whose world as they know it had just ended - and who were serious potheads before the disaster - would definitely have tried their best to stay zooted. And oh, did they! Despite spending nearly every waking moment high as a kite, they still managed to outlive and live better than any other survivor they came across.

There was not a lot of character development beyond two or three characters. Seriously, I kept forgetting who was who and just how many kids were in the house because they were that undeveloped.

The "voice" of most of the kids was just not believable: "I made a deal with the devil once, Gareth. I did it to avoid a confrontation and play the odds that we'd all come out of this inquisition of your unscathed. I see you in a different light now. I see you for what you really are: a small man, an angry man, a man possessed. You wouldn't have been happy coming here and questioning us without having fabricated something from nothing and sacrificing one of us to satiate your sick sense of self worth."

Yeah. Like, the teens I know, would, like, say something like this in, like, the same situation: "Dude! Like, what's wrong with you, man? Like back up, OK, man? Like, you go your way, man, and we'll go ours. Cool?" Or else they would be blubbering puddles of fear, crying for their moms.

And the ending? Just didn't really get that at all, but I won't ruin it for anyone else.

Profile Image for J.H. Sked.
Author 11 books19 followers
April 2, 2011
This is the review I first posted on Amazon a while back, with a few additional thoughts added at the bottom:
This is a pretty intense book that I think will polarise readers - they are either going to love it or hate it.
It deals openly with a number of subjects that more conservative readers will be uncomfortable with, including fairly prolific drug use and some fairly harsh language. Although the main character and his friends are teenagers, this is not a children's book by any means.

For me the book had some excellent points and a couple of jarring notes. I'll start with the negatives first, since I think firstly they are pretty minor & easily fixed in future books, and secondly - what I didn't like is not going to apply to everyone.

1) Too much back-story. The first couple of chapters could have been condensed without losing the overall feel for the characters. Got to say though - absolutely LOVED the first page - Joel speaks.

2) I had trouble distinguishing between character voices, especially where there was a lot of dialogue. To me this was because they all seemed to have the same style of speaking for long periods of time. Not always, but enough that I had to flip back a couple of times to check who was speaking.

3) A lot of dialogue came across more as personal philosophy or thought instead of conversation between people - interesting, but not something I come across often and it did tend to jar me out of the story a bit.

What I loved:

1 - The concept was brilliant. I've read a number of post-apocalypse type books; this one struck me as quite different to the run-of-the-mill stuff.

2 - Joel. For me this guy was the perfect anti-hero - difficult to like, remarkably easy to sympathise with. No attempt at covering his flaws or making him a saint. What really struck me was watching this guy devolve slowly into utter paranoia and self-hate, and eventually self-destruct in every sense of the word, while constantly trying to do what he thinks is right. Joel in the end is the personification of the apocalypse, and I thought this was beautifully done.

3 - Stinky. How can you not love a talking skunk/avatar?

4 - The ending. I really, really liked it - very powerful way to end this story, and for me it made perfect sense in light of both the book and Joel's character.

I'd recommend it, although it takes time to get through. This is not a cute or fluffy book and there are some pretty hard hitting scenes in it that will stay with the reader for a while.

Additional thoughts : If I could give this an extra half star I would. My opinions haven't changed since I first read the book. What I didn't expect was that I am still thinking about parts of it at odd moments. That to me is the sign of some very powerful story telling. I've actually ended up going back and re-reading parts to see if my memory was correct (it was)- and I've now read the last 5 or so chapters repetitively.
As someone who writes myself, I can honestly say I'm jealous over that ending. I wish I'd written it.
Profile Image for Micki Peluso.
Author 10 books60 followers
September 7, 2012
Exciting new Apacolypse book, September 3, 2012
By Micki Peluso (New York, USA)
This review is from: The Judas Syndrome: Book one in The Judas Syndrome series (Paperback)

The Judas Syndrome
A trilogy by Michael Poeltl

Joel Speaks:

Joel is about to graduate from high school when his life is turned upside down; along with a group of friends he's known since Kindergarten days. In three weeks his life will never be the same. Until that day, his last days of summer are spent with his closely knit group of 14 friends, doing what teenagers are wont to do--party, drink, do some drugs, have sex, and lastly, take their ritual camping trip in the mountains. And that's when it happens . . . .

Meanwhile the Grimm Reaper is spreading his maniacal threats across the world, which the media plays on, to make a frightened, wary public stay glued to their communication devices. So far it's only threats, causing most people to become apathetic to his rants, including Joel and most of his friends.

After a great time camping out, except for a few strange visions blamed on drug use, the group packs up for home. They drive through something slick that looks like a combination of ashes and black snow. Joel convinces his girlfriend, Sara, Connor, Earl and the rest to go to his home which is closest. Upon reaching the house, they all call on their cell phones and land lines but communications are cut off. Joel grabs the newspaper from the mailbox and reads the headline: "The Reaper Cometh". It is happening--the Apocalypse is here.

Connor, gifted with `second sight', tells the group that a drawing Kevin has sketched is the "Guardian Angel" he'd seen two years ago. Oddly, most of the group recognizes the figure on the drawing. So now they have an angel and with Joel designated as group leader, they begin their journey toward survival. The friend's initial drive to their homes is a horror as they discover their parents' dead or missing, leaving them all in devastated shock. They quickly become a group of survivalists in a world gone crazy. Driving through nearby empty towns, devoid of life, they search for food, gas and weapons. After being attacked by two different groups of ragtag survivors, they turn Joel's home into a fortress. Joel wonders if his mother, vacationing in Australia is alive; how widespread is the destruction--where is the Army--where are the people?

Days turn to weeks, then months. Gil, one of their good buddies, can't recover from the shock of his parent's gruesome deaths, and hangs himself. The girls weep, the guys try, without success, to hide their emotions. The invincibility of the teenagers has been shattered.

Author Michael Poeltl brings book one of his page-turning, outstanding stories to a dramatic, unforeseen close. Spellbound readers will want to read, "Rebirth", second in this ongoing series . . . followed by "Revelation", the final book of this unforgettable trilogy.

Reviewer: Micki Peluso, writer, journalist and author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang
Profile Image for Denna.
Author 21 books139 followers
September 15, 2012
I almost decided to pass on writing up this review because I had such mixed feelings about the novel. I actually started and stopped reading about three times before I finally finished. It wasn’t any one thing that bothered me, but a combination of several. It should have, and could have, been a great story. I’ve always enjoyed reading survival types and surviving a nuclear war would certainly be a tough one. Many possibilities for potential problems to crop up.

So we have a group of teenagers who decided to go camping on the perfect weekend to miss out on the big bang. But they return home to total chaos. This part was okay, even the three-legged skunk that makes an occasional appearance. At this point details start to get a bit sticky for me. I think it might have been different if the connection to the main character Joel could have been stronger, which is surprising when it comes to a first person narrative. Instead of living inside Joel’s head I felt like I was being told what he was thinking, leaving me emotionally detached. His fear and confusion didn’t jump across the pages to me. With no real connection to the main character there wasn't a lot of hope for more with the others. Jake was probably the only one I somewhat cared about and this was because I could relate to the flaws in his personality. He became real. The others did not. Each character should have had a specific place in the story, but all of them could easily have traded places and I wouldn’t have known the difference.

Some of what these kids did came across as realistic, but unfortunately, a lot of it didn’t. I felt fixes to problems were thrown in for convenience to make things easier for the author. A couple of examples: they just happen to walk into a barn and find everything they need there to grow their own food. After a nuclear war, growing food is going to be a problem, hunger a huge issue. It could have been used to add depth to the story, but instead they are handed an easy way out. Then, when they start to run out of fuel needed to keep the household and vehicles going, they just happen to run into a semi truck filled with the stuff. My reaction was, “Really, seriously.” It sorely tested my ability to suspend disbelief.

But, even after all of these problem areas, and the months it took me to actually finish this story, I ended the first novel curious about where the second one would lead. I’d like to learn whether the remaining friends grow closer together or continue to fall apart. For that reason I’ll give it a three star rating rather than the two I was leaning toward and hope for better in the second one. Bottom line—a so-so story, not great, but certainly not bad. The writing itself is fairly good and this probably helped me overlook some of the problems. I might not make a sprint toward the second one, but I will read it.
Profile Image for Todd Fonseca.
Author 2 books68 followers
September 30, 2011
The Judas Syndrome – After the Apocalypse…

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author: Michael Poeltl
Format: Kindle, Paperback

After weeks of planning, Joel and his girlfriend Sara, along with their group of teenage friends travel hours away from their rural hometown for a weekend of camping and partying. Miles from civilization and off the grid, they enjoy their reprieve from everyday life. But once they begin their journey back, they find no cell service and the radio stations are nothing but static. As they arrive home, they realize the unimaginable has happened. Nuclear weapons have been unleashed on the world and life as they had known it is forever over.

Michael Poeltl's "The Judas Syndrome" is a look into what happens to a group of friends who must rely on each other for survival after the end of the world. This is a bit of a cross between "Mad Max" meets "Lord of the Flies". Poeltl does a masterful job of describing the conditions one might have to endure in such a horrible situation as well as the way each character degenerates as a result. This is a troubling novel that reminded me a little of Stephen Kind's "Under the Dome" in its character study. This first novel in the series focuses in many ways how the worst comes out in each of the characters. The next novel in the series - Rebirth - is almost the opposite bringing out the best in most (but that is another review). There are some supernatural elements that occasionally appear here which give the novel an extra dose of intrigue and amp up the creepy factor which enhance the mood. Unfortunately, these aren't resolved at the book's conclusion which was a bit frustrating but fortunately they return and evolve nicely in book 2.

"The Judas Syndrome" was one of those books I just couldn't put down. Told from Joel's first person perspective, Poeltl does a nice job conveying the complexities of all the characters which is occasionally challenging from this perspective. If you like book one like I did, you'll like book 2 even more. "The Judas Syndrome" is $2.99 on kindle.

Note: A complementary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.
Profile Image for Sonia.
457 reviews19 followers
February 12, 2011
The start of this book begins like an ensemble cast horror flick. A bunch of kids on the cusp of graduation decide to have a last hurrah during a weekend trip in the woods. Thank goodness that they do, because while on the trip their town is obliterated - oh except for Joel's house, which conveniently has a gennie.

I had several problems with the book.

It was really far-fetched that a group of pot smoking, booze swilling, drug hazed teenagers would be capable or motivated to do ANYTHING they managed during the course of this novel. Especially not as quickly as they did. The plot development felt rushed and slapdash.

The writing, while not as horrible as I've seen elsewhere, was so basic as to come across as amateurish and juvenile. This is something on par with what I would expect from a young author.

Most apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction insightfully addresses many provocative ideas about mankind. While maybe I can admit that it not-so successfully addresses the idea of survival, so many of the other plot elements which could have been tremendously poignant moments for other common themes, were not utilized to their full potential. While it seems there is a hint of that intention, it just wasn't successful. None of the teen's deaths felt meaningful or impactful, possibly due to weak character development. It was hard for me to feel connected to any of them, not even Joel, the chief protaganist.

Which brings me to the climax of the novel which just unsettled me, but not in a good way. Once again, it feels as if there was a great intention that just failed to be successful.

The entire novel is just odd. It does not seem to have been addressed with the care and detail that a novel of this scope needed.
Profile Image for Jaidis Shaw.
Author 14 books279 followers
April 2, 2011
There must be a balance between books and their endings. Some must end happily and others are destined to go the darker route, such as The Judas Syndrome by Michael Poeltl. We are introduced to your average teenagers that are carefree and optimistic about their futures. In an attempt to put off summer jobs and escape the gloom brought on by threats of the apocalypse, the group of teens gather for a camping weekend. Upon returning home, the teens are forced to discover that the threats came true and the world has fallen victim to nuclear attack. It is clear to see who the main teenagers are as they are forced to grow up and plan for their survival. Joel is deemed the leader of the group although he never saw himself as the leading type. Other main characters are Connor, Sara, Eric and Jake. Most of the other teens in the group stay as secondary characters. I am certain that the secondary group will have their time to shine in the second book to this series. There is a lot of drug use throughout the book and at first I figured it was just kids being kids. I expected drug use to be the furthest thing from the kids minds while they are trying to survive so I was surprised that not only was it an important part, but the leading cause of Joel's insanity spree. The reader should expect that beginning with the title, this book will have to end on a sad note in order for a more positive message to shine through. Friendships and inner turmoils are put to the test...the Judas test. I am curious to see where the survivors lead in the second installment. There was mild adult language, heavy drug use, and somewhat bloody descriptions, so this book is better suited for an adult audience.
Profile Image for Kat.
477 reviews166 followers
May 27, 2012
3.5 stars

I love post-apocalyptic books, and the idea of a group of teenagers being left alone after a seemingly worldwide nuclear terrorist attack to fend for themselves is a story-line made in my personal book heaven. And in the beginning they react exactly as you would expect a group of teenagers to react thrust into a scary, rapidly changing world - they pretty much go on a permanent bender (hey, I'm sure it wouldn't just be teenagers overindulging in the face of the extinction of humanity!).

And in some ways, The Judas Syndrome is a perfect reflection of just how people would act in such circumstances, but there are a few parts of the book that I struggled with. Firstly, sure, these kids have had experience in the outdoors, but they also seem to know one hell of a lot about defending themselves and how to use weapons with deadly accuracy. There are also some passages of dialogue that don't particularly ring true (like the use of words such as 'pertaining' and 'vessel' to describe a body)- they sound far more mature and use far more complicated words than I would expect of a group of heavy-drinking, drug-smoking kids.

But about half-way through The Judas Syndrome I got really sucked in - as events inside and outside the house start to spiral out of control, emotions run high and shocking decisions are made. Suddenly the pace of the story picked up considerably, and like driving past a car crash, I just couldn't look away.

In short, the storyline itself is unique and interesting, but there are a few details in the execution that need a little more fine-tuning.

Read more of my reviews at The Aussie Zombie
Profile Image for s0nicfreak.
14 reviews
March 13, 2011
This is a good story that is worth reading. I would give this a higher rating if not for a few flaws.

It is believable that a group of teens in a post-apocalyptic world would do lots of drugs. It is believable that a group of teens that already know how to shoot, camp, and garden could survive in a post-apocalyptic world. It is also believable that teens can be mature and intelligent, and that even teens that seem immature can show their maturity when it counts. However, when all these things combine, things become a bit unbelievable. I think in real life things would begin falling apart rather quickly, as teens would argue that others were doing more than their fair share of drugs, argue about who should be in charge, etc. I think at least one person (most likely the leader) would say that all the drugs need to be stopped completely by everyone. So it is a bit hard to believe that there are no arguments about leadership and few problems resulting from drug usage.

The other flaw is that the characters are all underdeveloped and unremarkable. This is written in a first-person narrative, but even if Joel did not know the others deeply beforehand, surviving an apocalypse together should have made them all get to know each other very well. However the characters mostly remain interchangeable.

I hope these flaws are not present in the sequel, because as I said the story itself is good, and I am eager to read more.
3 reviews
March 17, 2011
The Judas Syndrome starts with a group of young adults on a camping trip before school. A cloud hangs over the trip, namely a terrorist's threat of a nuclear holocaust. The trip itself gives the reader a chance to know these youths and how they react under normal circumstances. When they return, they find that the terrorists have struck, their homes and families are destroyed, and the world is in chaos.

How they respond makes up the bulk of the story. They must contend with poisonous rain, lack of power, unplanned pregnancy, marauders, religious fanatics, drug addiction and -- perhaps worst of all -- their own inner demons.

The author has a clear and lucid style that takes the reader from one vivid situation to another. The story is reminiscent of Lord of the Flies but without adults rescuing them at the end. What does happen at the end surprised me, though I admit the author had left several clues.
Profile Image for Stefan Vucak.
Author 31 books123 followers
April 13, 2013
The Judas Syndrome provides an intriguing window into life after a nuclear war. The story focuses on Joel and his group, and the sometimes tense relationship among them brought on by the war’s aftermath, survival, and ongoing drug use that makes life bearable. There is minimal plotting in this straightforward story, but that is done out of necessity, told from Joel’s perspective. Some scenes are slow moving and under the circumstances, survival of Joel’s group is highly improbable, but if the reader maintains Joel’s narrow viewpoint, the unfolding story is understandable. Greater character development would have made this a much stronger work.

Michael Poeltl is a skilful writer and his book mixes well amusing incidents with stark horror and demands to simply stay alive in a suddenly hostile world. Although the story lacks sophistication, it is nevertheless an interesting look into a possible and all too real future.
Profile Image for Alicia Dinar.
3 reviews
February 22, 2013

"I Loved this book! It's now one of my favourites; It's high attachement to character components are hypnosis, and Micheal does well in this novel with moving the readers' emotions and theories of foreshadowing in every which way, making it almost impossible to put down. Well worth the read for anyone, of any genre!" -Alicia
Profile Image for Michael Poeltl.
Author 16 books219 followers
August 14, 2017
This book was imagined one summer's day from the rooftop of the very house featured in the book. The house and property were real. The people, not so much, at least that's what I have to say. It's the first time in my adult life that a story idea really resonated with me, and I watched the whole thing unfold before me. It took me a year to write this book, but ten more to do anything with it. I'm glad I did. Reader response had me turn the book into a trilogy. Then new stories came to mind. And I wrote them. Each book means something to me. An accomplishment, a narrative, a memory, a lesson. I love to write and I hope you love to read what I write.


Profile Image for Albert.
207 reviews30 followers
September 11, 2012
This is one that had me on the fence the entire time I read it. I could not decide whether or not I hated it, loved it or both. This book, if you make it past the first couple of chapters, will have you wrapped up and wanting more. The author does introduce an abundance of characters that make the mind spin but I believe these were more to "place hold" the story. All in all this is a great find and you will not be disappointed.
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