This story starts out well, but after about two hours it goes off track and never really recovers. It becomes more of a soap opera with politics and pseudo science. Maybe it gets better in the end, but I just didn't have the motivation to make it there.
This contains a few minor spoilers, but nothing important to the story. Don’t get attached to Holston. He’s completely gone after the first chapter. And that leads into what I consider poor story structure. The book will start building momentum and become interesting. It appears to start very quickly with Holston. Then there’s an abrupt turn. The story stops dead and almost seems to restart. That's fairly common for some stories; hook the reader in the beginning, then get more in-depth before continuing on. The problem is that this same technique is used a few different times during the book rather than just at the beginning. It seems to just be getting interesting, then time resets and explains how it got to this situation in rather boring detail.
Rather than going into the more traditional science fiction you’d expect, this story is more about internal politics and drama. There’s minimal focus as to why the planet is as it is. You get a few paragraphs that basically used the tired old story thread “The U.S. was secretly evil” to explain in passing and that’s it. No details at all and its completely superfluous to the story. Another silo is somewhat explored, but it answers few questions that aren’t answered elsewhere. There’s otherwise no exploring the outside world other than to say “maybe later we’ll do it”. So essentially, this is a story about the politics of people living in a massive structure.
It’s not entirely bad, I guess I was just expecting something else, but I don’t think I would read anything by this author again.
Also poor character development. Other than being mildly naive about certain human interactions, the protagonist seems to be perfect in every way, which is a great thing to aspire to, but makes for very boring reading. The love interest is just as odd. She goes from a lifelong distrustful loner to opening up and falling in love with him in just over 48 hours of story time. All the surrounding characters are extra flawed, ready to throw their own families to the wolves (or zombies anyway), to make Aaron seem that much better.
There’s inconsistency in the story as well. Chief among them being that the story explicitly states that the undead don’t decay – that’s why the story takes place 20+ years after it began and still has mobs of undead. However, just a few paragraphs later it describes the extreme and continuing decay of most of the creatures, some of them outright falling apart. This and several other inconsistencies continues on throughout the story in various ways wherever and whenever convenient.
As for the narration I can’t blame Mark Nelson entirely. Judging by what others he’s narrated he is used to doing a combination of non-fiction and B-movieish stories. He just doesn’t have the right voice for something that is not trying (at least successfully) to be campy.
I could see past all those flaws (the first two chapters were actually fairly good), but what I can’t forgive is that most of the book is devoted to Aaron and Sam’s love story. Zombies are happening somewhere in the background, but are just a peripheral focus after a few hours in and don't really matter. Despite this, the story tries to be extra graphic for the first couple of chapters I guess in an attempt to make up for the complete lack of action later.
Clines is overall a very good author - his story "14" is one of my favorites. This one however....
Even a really great story wouldn't be worth spending much money or a credit on for such a short book (less than four hours). And though it is well written I wouldn't call it very good.
I suppose the problem comes down to the format. This is a compilation of four short stories. Each story crosses over, but only mildly, except for the last two. There is no resolution for any of them. In the end it's just a series of events with no outcome. If you can get it on sale for just a couple of bucks it might be worth it, but otherwise don't bother.
The story is overall very slow as it chronicles the "life" of Stony Mayhall, but I still found it entertaining for the most part.
There's not much more I can say without spoilers. The cause of the dead rising is never discovered. The story begins in the 1970's. In this world, "Night of the Living Dead" was a documentary, not a horror flick, but afterword begins to follow real world history up to the present. If you're looking for a traditional zombie story, this isn't it.
The third book got a little too Sy Fy for me. I realize some zombie tales could reasonably be called Sy Fy, but without giving too much away, it got a little too traditional Sy Fy for me. It does also seem that the author didn't outline his entire story prior to the publication of the first book due to some inconsistency in style and some very minor plot points established earlier on.
Despite that, I found it to be very compelling, well written and well narrated. These are you're traditional slow but unrelenting, "bullet to the head" undead zombies, but some of them become faster/smarter (like an animal not a human) than the majority of the walkers.
Seems rather dystopian to me, which I generally avoid, but overall still a good story. My only real complaint is with the narrator. The different portions of the story when switching from character to character, and chapter by chapter have little to no space between them, causing one scene to bleed into the next. This is likely how the publisher compiled the audio and nothing the narrator was doing. Also much of the storyline is, by necessity, non-linear, due to an inability to travel faster than light.
In this future it seems as if all of humanity has switched to a feudal or tribal system. (It doesn't specifically say this, but that's how it appears to me.) You never hear about any major governments or even long term alliances. The best technology was developed centuries in the past(ship engines, cache weapons), and the knowledge of how it even works is lost. Most of the existing tech is capable of maintaining itself, so it's still working. There's a lot of nano tech (which is not lost tech), but much of it is compromised by the Melding Plague, a cyber-nano virus who's origin is explained in another story of the same universe. Most technological development has been arrested. A person can spend decades away from a planet and return with little technical change.
Here's a couple of definitions that will make the story easier to follow, without giving anything away. There are Jugglers, or Pattern Jugglers. These are massive lifeforms that encompass whole planets, or at least the oceans. They are essentially ancient massive organic databases, with some debate on how conscious they may or may not be. They can store any kind of information, including whole minds, organic and electronic.
Shrouds or Shrouders. There are multiple Shrouds, area's of highly localized energy and gravitational anomalies. Artificial in nature, their purpose is unknown.
The eighty. In Chasm City there's a shrine to these people. They were the first to try to scan their brains into a computer(which is now common). The scanning process itself was imperfect at the time, and killed them.
I don't know if DiLouie wrote this book first or Infection, but I'm betting it was this one because it doesn't seem as well written. It's an excellent story, but not nearly as good as his Infection books. This story has a lot of similarities to Infection, but I don't believe is executed as well. If you've never read anything by DiLouie, I'd recommend you start with this one, then it should improve from there.
This is an excellent book almost the whole way through. There is a section at the end where it seems as though the editor told Scalzi that the book needed to be longer because it's totally unnecessary. Basically, when the story starts talking from the point of a blog, you can shut it off. Prior to that though it's very good.
I don't read fiction for politics and social commentary. I read them for entertainment. I could only get about an hour in until the author started droning on and on about politics. Not fictional politics that could actually play a roll in the story, but mostly real world stuff and how it could relate distantly to the situation. Maybe it gets better afterward, but my past experience with any fiction is that if it starts to get off on a tangent like this, especially early on, you can look forward to the whole book being that way. I'm glad I could return it. Judging by the reviews from other sites, I saved a lot of time and disappointment. The only zombie book worse than this was "Feed".
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