I really enjoyed this. It's definitely more of a classic SF novel with a heavy bent toward YA, but there are some adult themes here as well. The characters are fairly complex and well described. The opening scenes are terrific, drawing you in quickly and introducing the core details of the story. The strongest aspect of this work is the world building. Locke's vision of a possible future is very well considered and reasonably consistent.
I enjoyed the writing, story, and the narration. I'll look forward to more from this author.
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.
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.
This is the third in the series taking place on an impoverished, backwater world. Our anti-hero again finds himself against forces with technology out of his league as rich off-worlders take advantage of the desperate population.
If anything, this is the darkest yet in the series. Some of the events are extremely brutal and our lead character is really hitting rock bottom before a somewhat satisfactory ending and the promise of more stories and a developing story line.
Fairly run of the mill as zombie stories go, a bit more solid on the explanation side in terms of where the zombies come from and why -- but they're zombies, so they are what they are and any author that tries to backfill that story has his hands tied behind his back already.
The reading, however, is truly horrible. William Dufris should be prevented from ever doing another audio book interpretation. It's so over the top melodramatic as to be cloying -- as if he's reading the story to a pre-teen audience who have only ever seen Mexican soap operas before. The minute I started the book an realized this was the same terrible reader that totally ruined John Scalzi for me on Audible I cursed and almost shut off the player. I've suffered through the book because the story line isn't bad -- but the reading so terrible that I am frequently "outside" the story and focused on the bad reading instead of what's going on.
This book read like the self referential internal fantasy world of a twenty something young man experiencing a schizophrenic break. The breathy, teen angst feeling narration doesn't help.
No exposition of the bad guys or the good guys ever took place. He can trust no one but himself, he kills people because he decides based on feeling and an internal and untestable logic that they're the bad guys.
What makes the book a little frightening, is that while the plot and story are externally unbelievable to the point of silliness, the internal logic could very easily be the sort that drives a delusional young person who needs medical help and doesn't get it to go on a killing spree.
If the author had spent a lot more time exposing the good/bad guys, and built the story toward some kind of conclusion where the ostensible hero confronts and overcomes that mysterious organization than maybe it could have been a fun bit of escapism. As it stands, it was a depressing tour of the mind of a dangerous crazy person.
It's been a long time since I read anything like this. Most of the SF I read is the sort by Ian M Banks and Alastair Reynolds. This isn't like those authors. The author that comes to mind is actually good old Robert A Heinlein. I have no doubt that John Ringo would be flattered by the comparison, but I don't make it in an entirely good way.
The book is fun and the story moves along fairly well. There's very little depth to the plot but that's ok. It's the sort of idealistic and oversimplified science fiction of the 1950s so doesn't really need those things. The plot is what it is, it turns essentially any way Ringo needs it to so he can move on to the next idea he wants to talk about and you are either going to go along with the ride or not. Up to you. The mechanics of the writing are good enough that you don't get frustrated by the way sentences are put together or overused words, so for the most part you're willing to go along.
As far as characters....well...let me put it this way....Compared to John Ringo, Robert A could have taught a graduate level class in character development and gender studies. If you're not familiar with Heinlein enough to catch the sarcasm, please note that I don't mean this in a complementary way. I don't recall there being a single woman in the book given more than a few paragraphs of actual dialog, and where women were referred to it was for the most part in a manner most consistent with a 14 year old boy's view of women. At one point this was so over the top as to be ridiculous and in a way that really didn't connect significantly to any other part of the story. It was almost as if a puerile silliness overcame him while writing for a half an hour or so.
The politics in the book do show a heavy neo-con bent, but the character changes so often it's just a cardboard cutout anyway. Don't worry over it.
So, why 3 stars if I have all this negativity? All in all, still a fun read.
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