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.

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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.

Review: Post by Brenda Cooper

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Publisher: eSpec

Publishing Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9781942990222

Genre: post-apocalyptic

Rating: 2.4/5

Publishers Description: The world, for some, has crumbled. Disease and natural disasters have brought on social collapse in the Pacific Northwest. For Sage, born and raised in the safe haven of the Oregon Botanical Gardens, that has never been more than academic. What more could she ask for than to be safe and fed?

<spoiler alert>

Review: “Why does everyone want to rape me?” As young, hot, nubile 16 year old Sage’s storyline begins, she is chased by rapists bent on catching her. She eludes the rapists and decides that living in a garden sanctuary is like, way boring (ewww, old people) and heads out to find a bigger world. Once she leaves, she is again chased by rapists, meets a new friend that has been raped, saves new friend from biker rapists (because we know that all bikers are rapists) and is saved (again) from a good looking well dressed, self-sufficient rapist/killer. This takes place out in the country, and as they make their way into a city with a couple of hundred thousand people, the worst that happens to them is that they get their asses slapped by guards and groped by a cute boy.  You would think that a city would be a concentrated epicenter of rapists if this books statistics hold true. And why is every dystopian YA novel  rampant with people that predominately want to rape, kill, steal and control?

Well, the novel is well written and brings you into a stylized world of post-apocalyptic mincing about. Sage comes off really self-centered and has no depth of emotion about the people who raised her, but gets all blushy and hot when a girl and a boy kiss her. She is strongly attached to a girl that she has known for a week and this summary relationship just doesn’t add up as being plausible.  Additionally, the idea that a violent tyrant dictator can be overcome by a peaceful process is just ridiculous. And why people would flock to a city that has no resources is again, not plausible.

If you want a factual representation based on a salient process, then this book is not for you. If you want a pretty gurl chased by rapists and kissed by gurls while dreaming about airplanes under a Portland moon, then run to the bookstore like a rapist is chasing you. 

 

Review: The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

cover94861-medium

Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: October 2016

ISBN: 9781503939110

Genre: PostApoc

Rating: 3.4/4

Publishers Description: In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. 

Review: Wow, a couple of the reviews out there are pretty harsh on this on (I know, I should talk, right?).  One reviewer thought that the writer never passed remedial English in high school and that if written by a grade school student, it might receive better marks. Yikes. I didn’t think it was that bad.  I liked this novel. The story line was great as was the characterization. Even the bit players are built well in a limited amount of time.

<Spoiler Alert>

This novel was only slim on facts. Really, guns and bullets are almost impossible to find anywhere in your travels? Will most men in a post-apoc scenario turn to rape and enslave women so they can sell them to other rapists? Yeah, maybe. I can see where the author thinks that this is so, since there are virtually no women left. But wouldn’t women be prized (as they should be) rather than raped and abused? Does taking away their ability to produce live children diminish their value? Other questions brought to mind was the implausibility that almost every man turns into a drunken looter/rapist once the shackles of normative behavior are loosed. Since most everyone has died off, I doubt you would find roving packs of rapists or even the beginning of a barter system. For awhile, there really would be enough for all.

There was also some excessive backstory narrative that seemed to be rehashing what had already been said as well as the annoying journal entries. A real heavy dose of editing is needed to clean up the grammatical and spelling errors as well as the disjointed scene transitions and shifting points of view. Slim those down a bit and you have 4 easy stars.