Tag Archive | post apocalypse

Review : The Way we Fall

The Way we Fall by Megan Crewe
Pages : 309
Genre : YA, Speculative fiction
Series : Fallen World, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

It starts like an unpleasant cold, but it quickly grows into something more: a deadly virus quickly spreading through Kaelyn’s small community, forcing the government to quarantine the island. Kaelyn wants only one thing : keep herself and her family safe and healthy, a task that gets harder and harder when food gets rare and there are more dead than alive…

My Thoughts :

The Way we Fall certainly doesn’t follow the current YA trend of futuristic, dystopian novels. Instead, it offers a terrifying and realistic novel of speculative fiction, in the same vein as  The Things that Keep us Here or In a Perfect WorldThe threat of a deadly virus outbreak is something that is easy to imagine in the present, and if you remember the panic that surrounded the H1N1 situation a few years ago, you’ll understand how scary this possibility is.

The first thing I thought of when I started reading The Way we Fall was the movie Contagiona movie I did appreciate. But while the two do share similar themes, The Way we Fall is a much quieter story, following a regular teen girl with her own worries and insecurities rather than a complete cast of characters. And since the narration is done through Kaelyn’s letters in a journal destined to her former best friend, the view we get is intimate, narrow, and sometimes limited in terms of context or scientific information.

I thought it was refreshing to have a novel that wasn’t a constant train of action and twists and turns. If you prefer novels with punch and movement, then you might feel this one is a bit slow and uneventful – though things do happen, it isn’t in a “cliffhanger at the end of each chapter” kind of way. I can appreciate both, but I enjoyed that this had a more normal, day to day pace. It made it easy to relate to Kaelyn and her fears.

Not surprisingly, there’s a romance, but I thought it was nicely done. It doesn’t overshadow the dangerous situation or Kaelyn’s worrying for her family, and offers to Kaelyn a little more perspective on things outside her house. There are few characters, but you get a sense of constant danger for them – and indeed, the author isn’t afraid to end some of them’s life along the way. Kaelyn herself was an interesting character, a regular girl with a lot of strength but also some flaws. While she was a bit forgettable, she was a character I appreciated both in her strong and weak moments.

I was at first a bit confused by the ending, mainly because I had no idea it was the first in a series and not a stand alone novel. Reaching the last page, there is a lot we still don’t know, mainly on the situation outside the island. Since it’s been quarantined all along, we have very little knowledge on whether the virus has traveled outside the island into Canada or the United States, and in what measure. This being said, The Way we Fall was a quick quiet read that gave me a lot to think about, and I look forward to reading the next novel.

Series Reading Order :

  1. The Way we Fall
  2. The Lives we Lost (coming January 2013)
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Review : The Other Life

The Other Life by Suzanne Winnacker
Pages : 315
Genre : YA, Post-Apocalypse
Series : The Other Life, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

3 years, 1 month, 1 week and 6 days : that’s the time Sherry has spent living in a sealed bunker with her family, after a deadly strand of rabies threatened mankind. When they suddenly run out of food, Sherry and her father decide to face the dangerous outside world for the first time in years.

The two are not ready for what they find outside. The Weepers, mutant killers, capture Sherry’s father and she is left alone behind. That’s when she meets Joshua and his group of survivors, who promise to help her find her father – if it is not too late.

My Thoughts :

This is the most difficult kind of review to write : I didn’t love the book, but I didn’t hate it either. It falls somewhere in the middle, in that very grey zone that is difficult to define. And it seems that I am almost alone in my zone, since most of my Goodreads friends gave it 3 stars and up.

I think the best way to describe my feelings toward the book was : indifference. I never connected to Sherry. I felt everything went too fast, and that I never really got to know her. Even the glimpses from her previous life didn’t give me much about her, or her family. I wish Joshua would have brought some life into it, but even there, I didn’t feel the chemistry between him and Sherry. Or his family. The whole thing, I felt, lacked depth.

And then, there was Sherry’s constant counting. I understood what the author tried to do with it, I just didn’t think it worked really well. Plus, I really didn’t care that it had been x numbers of days since she last ate an apple. Or pasta. Or used shampoo.

There was a good pace to the story though, and the book is a really quick read. Readers who don’t like to stay in one place too long, or who prefer action to description, will probably enjoy this one. I also appreciated that the Wheepers weren’t exactly zombies, but mutants. Similar, yes, but the little differences were what gave originality to the story.

I can’t recommend or not recommend this book, as I just didn’t connect to it. I won’t be reading the next one – which is almost a relief, since I have so many series I’m following already! – but I hope other readers will appreciate this one more than I did.

Series Reading Order :

  1. The Other Life
  2. The Life Beyond (coming 2013)

Review : Wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Pages : 358
Genre : Ya, Post-Apocalyptic, “Dystopia”
Series : The Chemical Garden, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Rhine grew up knowing her days were counted : in her world, males die at 25 and females at 20, and young girls are viewed as prized possessions, their only worth being their capacity for making babies.

Rhine is 16 when she gets kidnapped and married, along with two other girls, to a man she has never seen before. Despite her new home’s wealth and luxury, she has only one thought; to escape and find her twin brother. When she discovers her new father-in-law is using her sister wives as experiments, she knows it’s time to put her plan in motion.

My Thoughts :

First of all, I’m not sure dystopia is the right tag for it, hence the quote marks at the top; I use it more in the sense current YA literature uses it, as in “any post-apocalyptic society”. But, to be honest, Wither is more of a futuristic post-apocalyptic novel than one about a dystopian society. There is a distinction and while I do find it blurry at times, it’s an important one. If you’re not sure about this, I highly recommend this post at Giraffe Days.

Second of all, this is a bit of a generous 3 stars rating, mostly for “entertainment” value. Wither is not a bad novel and I can see why so many enjoyed it. It’s a terrifying world, and while many of us, I’m sure, have stories of grand-mothers or great-great-grand-mothers who had their first babies in their teen years, it doesn’t make Whither‘s world any less chilling. Plus, DeStefano’s writing was pleasant and had some great moments.

I was mostly interested and Rhine and her sisters’ story. The romance side, a little less. There is a form of love triangle in place but Rhine’s feelings are so unclear that, until close to the end, I wasn’t sure if there was a love triangle, a simple romance or just friendships. It was a bit refreshing to not have the romance being front and center for once, and I appreciated that.

I have read as many negative reviews as positive ones, many of which questioned whether Wither’s world made sense or not. These can easily be found on Goodreads and are worth the read if you like to discuss world building. I have to say that I did find it a little shaky; I would believe that if the world was in such a crucial need of babies, more young women would voluntarily offer themselves to marriages like the one Rhine is trying to escape. I’m not sure there would be such a need to kidnap young girls, and even less to kill a bunch of them… Unless I’m missing something?

I think it’s lucky that Linden (Rhine and her sister wives’ husband) was mostly a decent human being. Or not. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this one, to be honest. My first thought was that I was glad that he wasn’t forcing himself on these young girls; it would have made a horrible situation even more horrible if violence/rape was part of the deal. But then, what choice do these girls have? Sure, Rhine resists and isn’t forced into it, but then you have Jenna, who sleeps with him even though she despises him. It was all a bit icky, really. Just because I don’t want the difficult parts of life to be glossed over, doesn’t mean I don’t find it really hard to read at times – this was one of those times.

I’ll be reading the sequel because I do want to find more answers to my questions, and I’m hoping the author might offer some in Fever. But I was so torn about this novel while reading it, that I feel like this review is not going into a specific direction, negative or positive. So I’ll just sit comfortably in the middle, thank you very much.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Wither
  2. Fever
  3. (coming 2013)

Review : The Dark and Hollow Places

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Pages : 374
Genre : YA, Post-Apocalypse, Zombies
Series : The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 3
My Rating :

From the book’s jacket :

Annah lives with a lot of regrets : the first is when she left her sister behind in the forest, never to be seen again. The second is the morning her friend Elias left to become a Recruiter, three years ago. Every day she hopes to see them again, and every day her despair grows.

When life brings back in her life the ones she had lost, with a new friend on top, Annah hopes things can get back to the way they were, despite the Horde advancing towards her dark city. But having spend those years apart, fighting for their lives or trying to find their way home, not everything is as it used to be, and Annah has to face that things will never be the same.

My Thoughts :

Having enjoyed the first two books of this zombie-fest post-apocalyptic trilogy, I was waiting with some excitement to read this last installment. Not only this book had, like its predecessors, a fantastic title, it also promised to give me the answers I had been hoping for. I was looking forward to seeing again Elias, Catcher and Gabry, and to get to know what happened to Annah.

Ryan’s writing was as fantastic as before. I love how her words give us an intimate look into her main character’s thoughts, leaving nothing out, the good and the bad. Annah was certainly a troubled young woman, living in dark times with a terrible weight on her shoulders. From the first few pages, her guilt is heavy, haunting her every word and every move. She is stuck both in the dark city and in that moment of her life, unable to break from her mold.

When she finally does, she comes across her sister and there the story really begins. I was so curious to see how the two sisters would interact together after all those years and there again, the other delivered in portraying the complexity of their relationship.

However, I found the story itself extremely slow. So much so that it took me long to finish the book – or so it felt like. Ryan has a very quiet type of writing, which I enjoy, but this time around I just wasn’t gripped by the story like I had been before. Something was lacking, and sadly I would have a hard time pointing out what, exactly, was needed.

This being said, I’m very lonely in my camp! Most reviews I have read were extremely positives, raving about the book and often choosing it as the best of the series. It’s possible I just read it at the wrong time, but in any case, it was still a really good novel I could recommend to fans of the series. If you love the genre, then you need to grab the first book and start reading. 🙂

Series Reading Order :

  1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  2. The Dead-Tossed Waves
  3. The Dark and Hollow Places

Review : Enclave

Enclave by Ann Aguirre
Pages : 259
Genre : YA, Post-Apocalypse
Series : Razorland, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

Deuce’s world is divided in three classes : Builders, Breeders and Hunters. From as long as she can remember, she’s been preparing to be a Huntress, getting ready to face the “Freaks” that inhabit the tunnels outside of her enclave.

On her first day as a Huntress, Deuce gets paired with Fade, a mysterious young boy who came by the tunnels years ago. With him, Deuce will learn about a world she never really knew and the secrets that shape her society, forever changing her and her life.

My Thoughts :

Previous to reading Enclave, I had read many not-so-hot reviews of this dystopian novel. Nothing really negative, mostly just a general “meh”. I have since read much more positive comments on it, but at the time of reading it, my expectations were sufficiently low that I actually really enjoyed it.

But when thinking back on it, I felt in parts unsatisfied. There were too many unanswered questions, and while some of these could be explained by the main character’s ignorance, some other things simply could have used more explanations and details. While the trend of dystopian novels is going strong with books like Matched, Delirium, Divergent and some others that I haven’t read yet, it seems many of these books also share a lack of worldbuilding that irritates me. Just because it’s YA doesn’t mean the world you write about doesn’t need to make sense. I don’t need the whole encyclopedia, either; I just need to feel like the author thought the world through, outside the limits of what will create an cool premise.

That being said, I did enjoy my initial reading. There was a good rhythm to the scenes, just enough action, and Deuce is a great main character. She certainly follows in the footsteps of The Hunger Game’s Katniss, so I couldn’t be happier. Though she was a bit naive at times, she was mostly a solid young woman willing to fight for what’s right. Her world was bleak but I didn’t think that she was this pessimistic character you could imagine her becoming.

I also loved her interactions with Fade, though I couldn’t really feel the chemistry between the two. Maybe it was just too quick, too soon. He certainly was an intriguing character though and his story did make me curious to know more. I feel he could develop in a really strong and complex character if Aguirre gives him enough space to do so.

Enclave is the first in a planned trilogy and my hope for the next novel (still a year from now) is that the author will put a little more meat into the worldbuilding and develop the main characters a little more. Enclave was good enough that I’m considering reading this next novel, especially since the story in this first volume is far from complete, and I think it could be a great read for readers of dystopias that enjoyed a bleak, dangerous world with a strong female lead.

Series Reading Order :

  1. Enclave
  2. Outpost (coming September 2012)
  3. Horde (coming 2013)

Review : Aftertime

Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Pages : 375
Genre : Post-Apocalyptic
Series : Aftertime, Book 1
My Rating :

What it’s about :

After bio-terrorist attacks destroyed important parts of the ecosystem, the government’s plan to make it better failed by turning people into Beaters, creatures who yearn for human flesh. Extremely dangerous, the new disease has left many more dead than alive and forced the survivors to fight for the smallest necessities.

Waking up from a traumatic event with a blurred memory of the recent past, Cass knows only one thing for sure : she has to go back to her daughter Ruthie. Fighting the zombies that took over her world and people’s fear of outsiders, Cass also has her own secrets, one in particular that could get her the wrong kind of attention.

My Thoughts :

Let me tell you something : at the start of the year, I read some really great books that I immediately added to my “Best of 2011” list, thinking that if my reading continued on the same way, I’d have a fantastic reading year. Then school kept me busy and I thought, no problemo, I’d spend the summer reading anyway. I expected it to be full of awesome, but as it turned out, it wasn’t exactly like that.

I have read many good books this summer, even a few great ones, but Aftertime is the first to hit me this way. I loved it, I just couldn’t let go of it. Every time I finished a chapter, all I could do was read the next one. Littlefield created a fantastic character who, all the while being a kick-ass woman, also has plenty of faults. Cass’s life has never been easy, not even before this apocalyptic disease happened : victim of sexual abuse as a teen, she is now a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t made peace with her past yet. She has guilt about being a bad mother all the while wanting to be perfect for her daughter, and I found it impossible not to feel for her. She’s an intricate character that felt real, all the more important in a world ravaged by horrific creatures.

Talking of these creatures, I have to say that the author accomplished something amazing on that aspect. The Beaters aren’t the laughing stock of the story, like zombies often are : instead, they are scary as they should be. They also aren’t the only aspect of this post-apocalyptic universe on which Littlefield focuses. The world has been changed forever and the author really gives a lot of attention to what this results in for the survivors : clans are formed, things that used to be taken for granted become precious goods to be traded, life is an everyday battle with completely different rules.

Each new character Cass meets open a new door for new possible story lines, and I loved that. I don’t know when (and if) Cass will meet again the Covent’s sisters, the Rebuilders, or any of those she met along her way, but each glimpse we get of these different groups is rich with ideas. Every time Cass left some place, I had the distinct impression life continued there, and I could imagine how it was. What I mean is that, even though we’re reading Cass’s story, it didn’t feel like the whole world revolved around her, you know? The author does a great job of describing her world in a realistic manner, making Cass’s story a frightening yet captivating one.

I can’t finish this review without mentioning Smoke, of course. Smoke is the mysterious hot stranger who accompanies Cass for most of her journey. He has secrets of his own, doesn’t reveal too much about himself, but him and Cass, they worked well. I believed it. More than that, I loved that while he is very present through the pages, he isn’t Cass’s main concern. They care for each other but it’s a slow, careful fall. They can be intense and the attraction is there, but Cass doesn’t lose focus from her sole objective : get Ruthie back.

I can’t say enough good things about this book! While it doesn’t reinvent the post-apocalyptic genre or the zombies-type creatures, it definitely exploits these things beautifully to explore the complexity of the human character. If like me you love dystopian universes, post-apocalyptic stories or zombies, then this is one to read. I can’t wait to see what’s next for these characters – I have a feeling I’ll have my nose in book 2 before long!

Series Reading Order :

  1. Aftertime
  2. Rebirth 
  3. Horizon (coming January 24th, 2012)

Novella : Survivors, Aftertime 1.5.