Book Review: Haven by Adam Roberts

Publishing Date: August 2018

Publisher: Solaris

ISBN: 9781781085660

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 4.8/5

Publisher’s Description: Rural English Post-Apocalyptic survival for a new generation. Young Forktongue Davy has visions; epilepsy, his Ma calls it. He’s barely able to help around the family farm. But something about the lad is attracting attention: the menacing stranger who might be the angel of death himself; the women-only community at Wycombe; Daniel, sent by the mysterious Guz. They all want Davy for their own reasons.

Review: A really well done novel that captures your imagination and pulls you in relentlessly with each new character.  There is so much unfinished business with the story line that this begs a subsequent installment. Like wtf happens to Amber and will Davy find her? What happened to Hat and Daniel? Are their stories to remain stunted without resolution?

Get this novel before someone smacks you for passing it up.

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Book Review: Dead Reckoning (911: Book 3) by Grace Hamilton

 

Publishing Date: June 2018

Publisher: Relay

ISBN:9781721136407

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 1.4/5

Publisher’s Description: After destroying the Church of Humanity, Jim Parker is a hero of the rebellion. But his mission is just getting started. Living on the run takes its toll on Finn, Ava, and their friends, but Parker gains hope from the ordinary people he sees performing small acts of resistance every day. When word reaches the rebels that the malicious Colonel Brian Hays is inside the Council compound, they hatch a plan to infiltrate the stronghold and take him out. Parker offers to lead the operation, but he has another goal in mind: convincing his daughter Sara to join his side—whether she wants to or not.

Review: I was looking forward to this third in the series, 911, due to the prior novels use of movement to build characters. Yeah there was a a lot of rapey gangs, raping the rape out of anything rape-able, but some perspectives are driven in that direction. Me, not so much.

In this installment we get a more static look at our players as they settle in to fight FEMA. Although the movement is good, Sara and Ava languish under patterned roles. How Sara goes from church spy rape victim to Recon Scout Uber Killer Babe whom everyone calls a hero and makes old men cry with their rapey stories, in the span of months, is fooking beyond me. Ava is a bit more believable as she has been in the trenches the longest, but strangely takes a back seat to Sara. Oh and lets not forget covering the PC bases with Ava getting hot for Sara. Fug.

The other not so bright spots in this novel were the guns. I have harped on this in the past so I won’t bore you with the details. (Me) professional action shooter for years….blah, blah blah. Anyhoo, Sara likes to cup her shooting hand, which would make Sara a very bad shot. Sara and the bad guys also seem to have a penchant for Sig Sauer’s and Beretta’s. Both of which are shit guns and no one uses in competition. How everyone gets a Sig, is again, beyond me. Dumb FEMA I get, as they are all issued the same side arms in the military (except for specops).  But this is also another fall down as FEMA seems to have both gun models. Does Everyone only shoot Sigs and Berrettas in this novel? There is also this weird penchant our heroes exhibit in collecting guns from the fallen. Where are they putting them? Why would they do that if they have the same gun/caliber? Would you not, in a heated situation, just grab the ammo/magazines? When Wisconsin (based on guns owned) is the third largest standing army in the world, you would think there would be a large variety of guns without the need to pick them up in tight situations.

Mostly the novel read as an interplay between Sara, Ava and Parker’s tribulations. The constant life history interludes halted the movement and reduced the novel to the mundane. So what I got out of this novel was the developing inclination that the author really doesn’t live what she is writing about even though she could be a prepper. Her knowledge seems to be derived by supposition and study but not actively living it.  The small things that you should know are missed and that lent an inauthentic air to the novel. Her bio is long winded and is more about selling herself as a survivalist in order to lend some sort of credibility to the novel. I am not buying it.

Book Review: Dead End by Grace Hamilton,‎ Jack Colrain

 

Publishing Date: April 2018

Publisher: Relay

ISBN:9781987561623

Genre:Post Apoc/Dystopian

Rating: 3.6/5

Publisher’s Description: In the time before the storm, Jim Parker committed his life to helping others. As a police officer, he placed himself in harm’s way for the greater good. But now that the world’s been turned upside down by a deadly EMP strike, it’s all he can do to survive. With his friends Finn and Ava by his side, Parker must defy the power-hungry Council and search for his long-lost daughter, Sara.

Review: I did not read the first in this series but wish I had. This was really good, and not just of the character and world building etc., but from a preppers perspective. I was indoctrinated into the prepper lifestyle as a young boy. Homesteading  in a large family where my parents were convinced that the crash was upon us. This novel is one of many in the genre, but one of a few that weave an accurate approach to the story line while creating a solid foundation in fact.

Where the novel completely diverges from reality is really based on future suppositions about certain events transpiring and the subsequent fallout/recovery. In this novel every group is boiling with men whose only goal is to kill, subjugate, rape and/or execute after the rape. If they are not raping or wanting to rape, they are smirking while killing or thinking of rape. These groups that are functional or rather, dysfunctional, fit into convenient paramilitary boxes or religious splinter groups where their rotten under belly is exposed.

History proves that when reactionary mobs find a chink in societal norms, events quickly escalate to violence and looting. This occurs when there is no “event” promulgating the action. However when resources dwindle under the yoke of calamity, people usually come together. Take for instance war torn cities or as recent as Venezuela where there has been a monetary collapse. The collective humanity have not been reduced to their basest of natures.

I think preppers, by nature and design, are convinced of negative outcomes that support their identity. A “If something bad happens then I was right”, approach to life. I get that there are homesteaders that get back to nature and self-reliance, but once you take that step into prepping then you’re planning for the worst possible outcome. This is often reflected in the literature that encompasses these actions.  The bottom line is that we just don’t know.

The minor fall downs in this novel were the fire fights with trained soldiers against an old cop, one girl and two women.  I am not saying that they can’t be as capable but when getting gunned at by Strykers with .50 auto BMG’s and thermal imaging then you are pretty fucked. Of course they always win and are bleeding out after every encounter but seem to become ambulatory and get into another rape-fest/gunfight. I am not buying what the authors are selling me, but it was still very entertaining. Another miss hit was when Ava and Parker are captured by a band of raping/laughing men and Ava shoots Shitbird and Frank with a Glock handgun. After Ava puts down Frank she stands over him, …“The magazine in the pistol was empty…her handgun dry-fired in series of whispery, mechanical clicks..”. Glocks are single action and do NOT click on empty as the trigger does not reset without jacking the slide or live firing. Fug. Details people.

I still had a good time reading this and will definitely get the next in the series.

Book Review: The Alaskan Chronicles. The Provider by John Hunt

Publisher: Lodestone

Publishing Date: June 2018

ISBN:9781785356896

Genre: YA/ Post Apoc

Rating: 2.0/5

Publishers Description: The year is 2020 and President Trump has just announced that the world is bracing itself for the effects of a huge solar storm. 17-year-old Jim Richards is a gawky, unimpressive teenager in Anchorage, Alaska. As chaos descends and society breaks down into anarchy and violence, his family team up with others to leave the city and take their chances in the Alaskan wilderness. They can no longer flick a switch to get what they want, no mobile or internet, in fact no communication at all with the wider world, how will it play out?

Review: This was intended for the YA crowd…not sure why as it has some valuable insights that exceed millennial cognition. In short, this is a post apocalyptic novel set in the wilds of Alaska where a survivor recounts his life from an aged perspective.

While I am a fool for all things post-apoc, this novel drew me in despite some minor factual fails. For instance it is mentioned “there is something magical about willing a small hunk of brass into a bulls-eye”. Jim is referencing shooting and the hunk mentioned should have been lead even with a copper jacket.  Another firearm fall down is when they hear three shots, in quick succession and Bob says “Pistols,….sounds like Berettas, army issue..” Really? So Bob, can tell the make of a firearm just by listening to the sound when it fires? Well that is just impossible. Period. Perhaps you can tell the caliber in some instances but that is rare.

In the event that there is a huge C.M.E. (coronal mass ejection) that knocks out the electrical grid, then cars would also be affected by the electromagnetic pulse except for cars from about the sixties on back. Then why is there a miles long exodus of jam packed traffic on the highway? The author expounds on the country of India continuing on as usual as they don’t have much electrical power. India would be crushed like other countries as it has a big reliance on transported goods .

The bush craft felt patterned and not realistic. More like it was researched then converted into a story line. The main characters are built well (Bob and Jim) with Jessie, Bess and Mary rendered a bit thin. What I really did not like was the beginning of the story told by Jim as an old man. It gives the novel away in such a manner as to relegate the main story line outcome as a known instance. Kind of like opening one present on Christmas eve rather than  all of them on Christmas day. This delivery continues throughout the novel and becomes tiresome in approach. The ending is really weird and does not fit in any believable scenario.

Despite my shjtpicking, the author has a deft hand at weaving an interesting tale. Jim is likable, honest, positive and hardworking in his approach to life. Qualities that immure and defy death while enhancing survival. I am not sure if I will continue on this series based on the weirdo ending and the constant political burps that litter the pages.

Book Review: Sanctuary Creek by John Kavanagh

Publisher: Riverdale

Publishing Date: December 2017

ISBN:9781626014268

Genre: ScFi

Rating: 2.2/5

Publishers Description: In Sanctuary Creek, the third novel in the pop culture Macroglint Trilogy set in the near future, Chicago is the new home of the Papacy and the American Pope. But all is not peaceful. This American Century of new Catholicism is rocked by evidence of the authenticity of the recently discovered diaries of St. Sebastian (who claims Jesus was a third-rate magician), the suspicious death of one of the new Pope’s closest cardinals, and the rumored existence of a porn video featuring the world-renowned Catholic pop star Angelique and someone very high up in this new American Catholic Church.

Review: To be fair I did not read the first two novels in this series. Which seems to be acceptable as the first two don’t have anything in common as per the descriptions. Had the novels had a deeper connecting thread, then there would not have been the need to create and entertain exhaustive backstory in the form of explanatory prose. Just when the story line becomes interesting, you are thrust into page after page of supportive backstory that totally derails the story line and subsequently, any interest you had in reading the outcome.

While Terry, Peter II and Angelique are interesting characters, you never get a real consistent reveal as you are under a mountain of faux history. There is also a definite hostile and passive aggressive take on religion, specifically Catholicism that tends to grate after awhile as well.

Review: Raid by K.S. Merbeth

Publisher: Orbit

Publishing Date: July 2017

ISBN: 9780316308731

Genre: Dystopian/Post-Apoc

Rating: 2.5/5

Publishers Description: Bound and gagged in her passenger seat is the most revered and reviled raider king in the eastern wastes. She can’t cash him in and she can’t let him go, so together they cross the wasteworld, following a dying road and dodging bloodthirsty raiders who either want to free Jedediah or claim him as their own. 

Review: Quick pace, a lot of action, great story line and great characters that leap off the page. What more could you ask for? This Mad Maxian romp through the wastes is a gutsy look at a female anti-hero that is half hot babe and half burnt to a crisp. The writing is really good and takes you to a place you would never want to be yet fascinates just the same. “So, why you no give 5 stars!!!”. What to some might be seen as a minor detail yet to me changed the course of the novel entire was the characterization of Clem. So sit back and relax while I pick the corn out of this shjt. 

Clementine. Her whole life revolves around guns. She is an expert with them, cleans them religiously, places them higher on a list than any human being in terms of importance, notes and admires others guns, got her handgun off an infamous (now dead) raider and feels naked and itchy without one in close proximity. Clearly she is obsessed as it is an important aspect of being a bounty hunter in the wastes. With every scene this intense focus on guns in general and her gun in particular, we never learn what exactly IT is. Make, model and caliber are sadly absent. Why is this important? Gunfighters know their guns and when specific elements about guns are expressed it lends authenticity to the tale and brings the reader into the inner processes of, in this case, Clem.  Additionally, relating specifics is critically important when constructing battle scenes. It is not enough to say that a rifle is good at distance (that distance and caliber is never given) and quickly discarded for a handgun during close quarters battle (CQB). There is never any scale that lends authenticity to these actions. She has a holster as well, but we don’t know if its cross-draw, thigh holster or hip. Is it FBI cant, plastic, leather? Also, AR does not stand for “Assault Rifle” like the media would have you believe. AR stands for Armalite Rifle Co.

This was easily one of the best novels I have read in a long time that sadly lacked the research necessary to bring it to great heights. Either a lack of insight into all things “gun” or really poor editing input did this novel no favors.

Review: Seek and Destroy by William C. Dietz

Publisher: Ace

Publishing Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9780425278727

Genre: Post Apoc

Rating: 3.5/5

Publishers Description: As people fight to survive the aftereffects of more than a dozen meteor strikes, a group of wealthy individuals conspires to rebuild the United States as a corporate entity called the New Confederacy, where the bottom line is law. As a second civil war rages, with families fighting against families on opposite sides, Union president Samuel T. Sloan battles to keep the country whole.

Review: I really liked this novel even though it is fairly steeped in military procedure. The characters carry the story line, or rather are the story line as they develop through one crisis or another. The novel follows two sisters that are ideologically opposed and have not only different world views but go about implementing those views in very different modalities.

The slight fall down with the plot is that although the conflict between the North and South have been revived under the shadow of a natural disaster, there is a definite good vs. evil rhetoric that is revealed through thought processes and overt actions. Take for example the Confederate Army. They are willing to indiscriminately bomb civilian populations to realize their goals and resort to torture as an expedient means of gaining information. The Union Army always seems to take the high road and are morally outraged at their oppositions abhorrent actions. Not to mention that the mere idea that a civil war would re-enact itself during disastrous times is almost too far a stretch that a leap is required.

While the sisters are diametrically opposed, it is the thought processes that really bring the Us vs. Them shtick to the fore. Robin gets the shakes and feels deeply about the people under her command while calmly and effectively doing her job without complaint. Sadie barely knows her squad mates as that would compromise their overall effectiveness and petty emotions drive her reasoning. Hate, jealousy and pride predicate most of her actions.

President Sloan is interesting as a by-line but Robin Macintyre really steals the show with her presence and confident ability. Although it is fairly long, I had a good time reading this.