Listen to the sample first!!! It's read with a regional access, slowed down for US audiences. You may like it, you may not.
The writing is good, if uninspired. The plot is thin. Zombie plague starts, good person takes early action, group of people go through a long series of running battles and brief hiding places until the end.
On the positive side, there are actual characters here, not cardboard cutouts. There's a reasonable attempt at making people into real people with motivations and thoughts. It's not Hemmingway, but this is a zombie book so what do you want?
The "rules" for zombies are fairly self consistent and the action isn't too unbelievable. It's not a bad romp. There is a very, very, small amount of romantic reference in the book but not enough that you'd need to keep young teens away from.
I know some of the fans of this series may find this one quite a bit more tame than others have been in the past. I found it more mature, more potentially believable (though still a stretch in bits), and overall very enjoyable. There was till plenty of Jack being Jack -- but it wasn't as over the top as some of the others. I approve.
Reminded me a great deal of the old move from the 70's "Damnation Alley" (which I liked, in a cheezy kind of way)
The reader first -- He's VERY talented and he voiced the characters with great skill and with enough differences between them that you could really tell who was speaking. Unfortunately, I thought he chose to over play some of their personality traits and it made them into almost comical archetypes when they didn't need to be.
The story --- So much potential, and so interesting, that it's a shame what the author did to the plot about half way through. I don't want to give it away, but he took a book that was based on a lot of thought and research and then dove off the comic book deep end to make an antagonist when it really wasn't necessary at all.
The whole book is a pretty good tour through an atopic future LA, but the main character is useless and never really gets any better. The plot makes little sense and tries to come together at the end but mostly fails. The book wanders from one violent event to another with little to hold it together. Kadrey tries to be William Gibson and doesn't get there.
This series has been good but not great all along, and I think the ending felt forced. In particular I don't like last minute reveals that suddenly provide new background where none was hinted at earlier in the series. It feels very much like deux ex machina and I'm not a big fan that. I also don't think it was needed in this case.
I don't want to give any more detail on that in a review.
Overall it wasn't bad - about like the rest of the series.
The book starts a bit slow and it's a very unusual kind of story, but you get into it fairly quickly. The bulk of the book is a great character study, with very real young people in it, but the end fell apart. Even without changing the plot, the end could have been written better.
Much of the subject matter is too adult for the rest of the book. That's not to say it didn't belong there. I think it was well treated and necessary for the story. The problem is that in every other respect it would be a great bit of young adult science fiction -- the adolescent exploration of a new environment, the rebellion against the enforced status quo, etc. are all staples of good YASF; but there's just too much content that I'd say most parents would want to wait for late teens (at least) before being comfortable with the kids getting to deep into.
The story was well read, and the subject matter well treated for all that.
Brin uses people to showcase his technology ideas when it should be the other way around.
I give this one a solid "meh".
Admittedly, I've never been a big fan of David Brin. I think he takes a basically interesting idea and stretches it too long with a lot filler. He's got some good characters - in fact he has so many of them that I don't end up caring much about any of them. He's got some clever science fiction ideas -- and that's what saves the book. What he doesn't seem to get, is that like all good fiction, science fiction is still ultimately about the people in the story, not the technology in the story.
There were four of five very interesting characters, but none were really the focus of the story. I didn't really get to know them terribly well, and in the end I didn't care much about them. There were other characters -- some of them with real potential -- that just sort of disappeared as their sub plots didn't merge into the developing story. I spent the last 1/3 of the book wondering what ever happened to a couple of them.
Meanwhile, the long shaggy dog story took several very clever turns, but only hours of reading after they were fairly obvious. Since the only reason the characters by this point seemed to exist was to expose the developing technology and the overall tech story, I wanted to slap them across the face and scream at them to get on with it instead of just blaring out more stilted expository dialog.
On the other hand, if you've a fan of David Brin's former work I guess you'll probably like this one too. He's such a respected writer, that I was looking forward to this one. I thought since it wasn't in his famous "uplift" series, it would give me a chance to get to know the author from a neutral position. I guess it did that, but I was disappointed by what I found.
Sadly, Clancy is still up on his soapbox. He tells a good, if tired, catch the terrorists style thriller. If someone could edit him down to just that story, it'd be a solid read.
Unfortunately, he's too popular to edit now and it really shows here. I don't mind authors who insert their opinions into their work -- lead characters have opinions after all, it's part of being a fully fleshed out character -- but this was ridiculous.
If you're reading "just a fun spy thriller" then it's fine to ignore the unrealistic lawbreaking by the good guys and purely evil bad guys. Since Clancy insists on making his politics the driving factor in his books, you can't do that.
Basically, Clancy's world has four kinds of people:
Type 1: Average citizen - a sheep, and unimportant to the story.
Type 2: Evil Terrorist - 100% pure bad guy. No redeeming value. No humanity. They almost always lose out because their pure evil nature makes them ignore large holes in their planing.
Type 3: Good, Conservative, American Men. Yep, almost always men. There's one strong female "good guy" and she's not really very helpful here or any any of his other books. To be a good guy in Clancy's world, you are always a Conservative politically.
Type 4: Weaselly liberal politicians interested only in their own gain and willing to sacrifice everything at the slightest threat to personal safety. No liberal politician is allowed to have the best interests of the country at heart in a Clancy book. If you have a character with any sympathy or dealing at all with the liberals, you have a character who will at some point betray the good guys. * In this one, whole paragraphs are written specifically to argue against the policies of the current liberal administration (which very obviously are the policies of the current Obama presidency).
We must ignore, of course, that the Good Guys (type 3) actually operate an unconstitutional, unlawful, secret spy organization and black-ops special forces unit based on American soil which routinely spies on (and frequently kills) people both in America and in other countries (including allies). These good-guys have no bones about forging passports, eluding law enforcement, and breaking national security laws. It's all ok, however, because they're "Good Conservative American Men" doing things all for the good of us all (even if we don't agree with it).
Again, all this silliness could be easily ignored if it was just the context of a good story, but when the author insists on making political points all along, the reader is drawn out of the story over and over again and the insanity of what's going on becomes apparent.
What a waste of good writing talent.
I think this series has been my favorite in the zombie genre overall, and this is a good solid ending to the series. The plot line resolution with the parents was well done, and a lot of the loose ends tied up. I didn't think this one felt as fresh, as fast, or as hip as the earlier two in the series but it was still a good read.
If you've enjoyed this series so far, you won't be disappointed. There's quite a bit more of a supernatural twist here that I personally didn't care for but worked in well for the story. As with the previous books in this series, the story line is solid but the characters are a little flat - with the villains almost comically archetypal. It's a good romp, but doesn't expand the genre much.
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