I'll admit that for a while, I didn't think Ronson was going to be able to tie together the many threads of this book into a single, coherent point. I was enjoying the stories and the author's own narration, but not quite seeing what conspiracy theorists, reality TV contestants, and childhood bipolar disorder had to do with psychopaths, which I thought was supposed to be the main topic of the book.
But things did come together in the end, and the book turned out to be about the "grey areas" and how everyone's a little mad at the edges, but that doesn't mean we all need to be labelled or locked up or medicated. Some of us, certainly, but not all.
This is what I get for not doing my research.
I had insomnia last night and went browsing for a new audio book. I bought this and spent the night listening to it. I guess the best that can be said is that it did NOT put me to sleep.
If I had researched the book beforehand, I'd have seen that it was web-published. And I'd have seen that the pdf is readily available. Not that I don't buy things I can get for free, but I'd have looked it over and seen immediately that it was not what I was looking for.
The list of problems I have with this novel is long. These are just the main ones.
1. It consists of journal entries by one person. This format has some definite drawbacks. Also, there is no dialog. OK, there are a few very short exchanges near the end. Dialog is crucial. It's what reveals character! And so...
2. I have no idea who any of the characters are. Sure, I've got their names, but I don't KNOW them. And there was no character development. It's hard to develop what doesn't exist in the first place.
3. There was no depth to the characters' relationships with one another. No genuine emotion. How is the reader supposed to care what happens to these people? This point flows out of the first two.
4. It’s full of clunky prose like this: “The West Africa virus has spread there now, too, and people are catching it.” Really? It has spread? AND people are catching it?? The very first lines made me cringe. By the time I got to this, several minutes in, I knew I was in trouble.
5. Finally, it adds nothing to my understanding of zombies and the zombie apocalypse. I've read some solid zombie novels in the last few years. I'm thinking of World War Z, Raising Stony Mayhall, and Zone One to name a few. They each changed the way I look at this genre. Rise lacks the scope of WWZ, the heart of Stony Mayhall, and the literariness of Zone One. It is nothing but a recitation of a series of events. It falls flat.
The narration was okay. The reader just didn’t have much to work with here.
I admit that were it not for the fact that I’m the one who failed to do my homework, I’d be tempted to ask for my money back. I don't feel this book is of the same quality as others in the same price range.
And I almost *didn't* get past those first two hours. So much teenage angst! And worse, predictable angst. It was obvious from the get-go that there was more to the past than what Benny believed. I just couldn't wait for his eyes to be opened.
But once the story moved out into the Rot & Ruin, it got more exciting and interesting. It's a zombie story with a twist, with true evil found not in the shambling undead but in those who would take advantage of the apocalypse for their own personal gain.
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