I really enjoyed some of Sawyer's earlier work. The Neanderthal/Human/Hybrid series is brilliant - well developed characters and relationships with depth that we really came to care about, all mixed carefully balanced with clever, innovative and well developed scientific speculation and a plot that moves along very nicely and holds it all together. However, as time goes on his work becomes more and more like excerts from a science paper, and all the characters seem flat, everyone is so completely scientifically adept in the same exact way and always on the same page with each other and so quick to launch into a lecture/intense conversation about the ins and outs of the science involved. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of speculative science in my science fiction, but I like it worked into the story, not trumping the story. In this the story and characters seem more like a vehicle for a very long winded essay of some kind... or like some dream nerd scenario (and I use the word nerd with the utmost of respect) in which people sit around debate this stuff endlessly... That and the preoccupation with religion and the relentless preoccupation with Canadianism vs. Americanism (which is so prevalent in this one it becomes a bit embarassing at times) are really changing Sawyers work and style. Some might like that but it isn't my cup of tea and I really think his earlier work was much stronger and much more compelling and entertaining.
With employers who won't even consider candidates unless they post their whole life on awful, invasive sites like LinkedIn, with companies like zappos that require you drink the koolaid before your even hired by joining and actively participating in the mandatory company social network, and have themed offices like in this book and promote a cult-like devotion and a sick openness in order to keep your job, with the world addicted to facebook and twitter.. WOW there was SO much in this book that is NOT a scary prediction of the future, but simply a description of the present, only nobody is objecting, everyone seems to think this is normal, people even get angry and argue with you if you claim such things are invasive and disturbing, and will defend it as though you have attacked their child.
In this book, the characters swept into this totalitatian state don't even see it happening, as it is all so normal, and supposedly fun... But if you really think about it, this bizarre outpouring of all the details of our personal lives in electronic form is pretty weird, and yet those who call it weird are considered weird these days. And more and more it becomes mandatory.... I can totally see this book coming to life, and even this review, I fear some employer finding it one day, or some person in my life being angry I dare show anything but love of facebook, twitter and the like...
Scary stuff in this book about a scary trend creeping, creeping creeping in... until one day it will be too late to go back.
I finally got around to listening to this and am so glad I did. Have to get the book now. I imagine it is what working and Zappos is like. Before anyone goes into a fury of upset over that, given some many seem to have had a big gulp of whatever koolaid that company is drinking, think about it - the naming of rooms to be "fun" the social network stuff, the relentless we are a family and a community stuff... whenever I hear about the Zappos cult and how it gets praised to the sky as such a great place to work and such a brilliant company, I imagine a scenario very similar to this story... And I am scared - wouldn't take a job there for anything, well - I would if I were very desperate. The way they have all this foreced socialization and bonding and "making work fun" nonsense like cubicle parades and relentless extracurricular after work activity. Whenever i hear about it I feel like some ugly brainwash is going on and it is the opposite of what people should be thinking about in terms of an employer... the true definition of creepy, though I know the drones there are "very happy"... I am sure that company, or at least companies like that, were some inspiration for this. Scary stuff and all too close to our reality.
Audible is pushing this story on their home page. It is not hte type I usually read, but their marketing efforts worked and I purchased it. I wish I had not and I will not finish it.
The first 30 minutes features torture of an animal. This is something I cannot stomach and do not want in any part or to any degree in my entertainment/literature. Audible should warn about such things. I was very disturbed by what I heard and it is not acceptable to me at all. It may be crucial to the story or to the characters, but such stories and such characters are not in any way the type I want polluting my mind. I find it cheap and disturbing and offiensive and easy and gratuitous. That is my personal taste and I feel strongly about it and react strongly to it, so thought I should warn, since audible is not going to.
Perhaps it won't bother some people as much, but it is a deal breaker for me and I wish I could unhear what I just heard. So if you feel the same, perhaps I have spared someone.
Surprised some listeners objected to the narrator. He did a great job - always does. A lot of the stories he has narrated feature strong characters and relationships and he does a great job with that.. Unfotunately very little of that is present in this book.
I love zombie stories. No, wait, I love well done stories that happen to feature zombies. The problem with this is that it is SO action packed. It may sound strange that this is a complaint, but it is like films that are overloaded with car chases or explosions or special effects. You have to have character development, plot, dialogue, a theme, a motivation for characters, interpersonal interaction, relationships, mood, etc... SO many other factors that make a good story. Get those right, and action can be really compelling. But without those, action is like a pretty package with nothing inside of it. And it is boring. An hour into this story and the action is still being described but no sense of a who the characters are - who even is the main character, who should we care about, what caused this, what is the plot? What is the purpose.. Just endless action scenes of soldiers fighting zombies and various logistics of the fighting... It really doesn't work. It really was tedious - it was the opposite of what action scenes are meant to do.. It didn't give a sense of excitement or drama or tension. With nothing to creat a story it was really, really hard to pay attention to the endless action and logistics of the fight. Too bad as the writer seems capable and the prose is good...Yet, just on and on the action goes... I almost gave up.
But if you have read a few well - then you are in my boat and WOW is it ever formulaic. Change names, slightly different plot - personalities identical to those in other stories... Immortal hunk with super power meets vulnerable, but often tough, and usually immortal or soon to be immortal girl... There is the inevitable misunderstanding, miscommunication, mistreatment of each other and a big falling out. One or both will have been tortured, of course.. then her life is in peril ( or his, but usually hers) and they come together, right all their wrongs and are in love forever and ever in a love to rival no other love - except all the other loves in these endless formula stories.
I know no one wants to hear this and reviews are supposed to gush or not be posted... and it is an escape, I suppose, if you don't mind the repetitive formula and then it is probably a lot of fun.... Kresley Cole is not a bad writer and this is better than a lot of what is out there... But she has a lot more potential, and these are becoming SO predictable and the exact same thing over and over.
Her young adult series was an exploration, and surprisingly the work she did on a series meant for teens shows that she has the ability to really develop characters, relationships, plots that are not just an edless re-hash...If she did not have such potential, I would probably be more patient with this... But am just tired of it... after the first 2 I read, they are all the same...
That said, again, she is a goo writer, compared to a lot of what is out there, though sometimes it is a little cringeworthy and if I never hear the term "hot seed" again, that is ok by me.... But the narrator is beyond superb - making it worth it, though it really is the same old from the author.
The focus of this story is MUCH more about the main character's dating life than an apocalypse. In fact it really is just a sort of chronicle of the main character's dating life. I found the main character to be hard to like, and hard to care about. Kind of a wishy washy guy who sort of drifts along bemoaning his love life, while making silly decisions and bouncing from person to person kind of pointlessly... The apocalypse is really just a backdrop for this dating stuff which is the main thrust of the story. It is not, however, a romance, or a love story, or even an exploration of relationships - just a sort of log and commentary on the trials and tribulations of dating...
It is odd - as though the writer was much more interested in exploring the ups and downs of dating than the supposed demise of the world. There is much more commentary about the kind of girl he likes, the kind of girl he doesn't like, etc, than there is about what is happening in the world and why or how it impacts anything. The apocalypse element could have been left out altogether, since it completely had little to no impact on the main story, which is all about this guy's experiences in dating. The dating stuff got to be relentless at times - on and on and on about which woman he will date and going to a dating service, and ex's he's had and... Ugg....
There is little explanation for why the economy is failing, or what is happening in the world or why, and some weird elements seem to be introduced to try to make is seem like an apocalypse. There are unexplained groups forming in society that seem to have no purpose and no explanation but to somehow make this an apocalypse, and viruses popping up for no apparent reason as we are given no explanation of the state of the world, or who would do this, or why, and it does nothing to move the story (which is just DATING) along.
It really got tedious and was a chore to finish this and I wonder why the author doesn't just write a straightforward story about some guy's dating life and all the commentary he clearly wants to expound on about dating for guys (I am sure there is an audience for that), without the premise of the world ending, since the apocalypse is really an afterthought in many ways it seems in this story. Perhaps it would not have been disappointing had I thought is was a character driven story about some ordinary guy going through all the ins and outs and ups and downs of dating, but "soft apocalypse" carries some obvious promises, so I felt this was very misleading... I had to listen to hours of this guy droning on about his feelings about his dating life when I thought this was a slow end of the world story, which it only was a little and only incidentally, it seems.
I know I can return it, but it is pain to do that. So though I hate giving bad reviews, and though it wasn't the worst story I have ever heard, I really felt there was a bait and switch going on here and I feel a mislead...
Fans of Kresley Cole already know she is incredibly talented at spinning a tale, and is very good at paranormal romance and "bodice ripper" fiction. I think writing for a YA audience has truly unleashed her greatest talents. It is not just he lack of endless sex scenes, which, to be fair, she works well into her adult fiction, but which occasionally trump ( or at least direct) the story, that has made this a superior work. In this story she has focused her powers of plot, or weaving an amazing story, of real character development, of creating tension, mystery, motivations for her characters and their missions beyond finding some ultimate mate, as much of her ( and most paranormal romance adult fiction) focuses on. And wow, unleashing that is has truly set free her creativity and cleverness and ability to capture her audience in an adventure that truly will captivate.
I am such a sucker for apocalyptic stories, but this is so much more than that - and the world built is one that (though obviously incredibly fictional) somehow draws the reader in as plausible... Amazing stuff. It is a bit dark at times, but overall, that element makes sense and doesn't overwhelm the story at all, and fits in perfectly... Just give it some time. The mood of this book is incredible and the reader will feel deeply attached to all the main characters and their plight.
Of course, there is a hefty dose of romance, and having read her adult fiction, I have to say this is the very best developed relationship of all her work, the characters and their relationship are the most compelling, with little "love at first site, irresistible draw to each other" stuff going on, and rather an incredibly complex set of emotions and meaningful interactions, and a strong background in place, and a very well grounded, well developed, and real basis for deep caring and attraction and love... And the obstacles thrown in their path only strengthen the bond, and never feel like conveniences which will ultimately make the inevitable bedding in the next chapter seem more meaningful... This is on a new level.
So many other have already sung the praises of this book... I will only second all of that and interject that I believe Kresley Cole, who, though she has always been a very interesting and talented writer, has really found her niche here and that this is her best work, and I hope she will continue this path.
The narrators do a great job too!
The summary describes this as action packed. There is a bit of action at the beginning, to set up the scenario, and a little at the end, but aside from that nothing happens.... Nothing. And I don't mean no action, I mean little to no plot. Hours of what will we have for breakfast and who is the leader who will decide our chores (not try to figure out what is happening, or come up with a plan, or anything else that logically the characters would and should be concerned about).
We hear very little about what happened, and no explanation of why it happened, and no real idea of its impact in the world - it is almost entirely ignored aside from being a set up for the scenario for the kids. So we have kids in a store during some unexplained catastrophe. It tries then to focus on what the kids do, but do not expect Lord of the Flies-like tension... There is little tension... The kid set up as the bad guy is a very nothing sort of bad guy with hardly any real conflict, and does very little, the good guys are equally anemic in their goodness... the characters on the whole are incredibly flat, and their relationships completely uncompelling, uninteresting and not at all well developed. The main character is in love with a girl because she is "perfect, smart, funny, a 'goddess'".. Well, we will have to take his word on that because she does absilutely nothing to warrant any of those advectives in any way, does nothing to warrant very many adjectives of any sort really, and the interaction between the main character and his crush does nothing to make the reader feel concerend with their relationship or understanding of the crush.
Very little goes on in this story and it doesn't succeed in being a character driven story as the characters are just so dull and the relationships are so uninteresting. The premise is nearly completely unexplored as well, which is surprising as that could have been interesting. Once the kids get into the store, there are no threats, no real hardships (except deciding what to eat and where to sleep, etc). So it doesn't even really work as a survival story. There isn't even the emotional component you would expect with a bunch of young kids (some teens and some very young little kids) who have lost everything. The occassional mention of how they miss their parents but nothing major - and though I don't want hours of kids in emotional anguish, it would have at least made sense and been something to connect to.
Also, be warned parents - there is a bizarre amount of drugs and sex and alcohol and vulgarity for no apparent reason. This does not make the story more interesting, and is not a major element, though a frequent one, and is totally perplexing as it goes no where and contributes very little to the story or the characters. Even that element is dull and never really develops properly. There are too many undeveloped threads like that - that never seem to amount to something that can hold the story together or give it some direction or shape.
I hate giving reviews like this... But the description makes it seem like something it isn't and I think like minded people will be as disappointed as I was, so thought I should warn.
So many have tried to put a new spin on the zombie genre... So few actually succeed, with most taking the form of a survival story, repeating the same old, same old... As I cannot get enough of zombies, the same old usually must be good enough... This is much better than good enough and is not the same old, same old.
Though it is a YA story, with a fair splash of teen romance, it is also a very unique and well developed zombie adventure. The characters are incredibly well done, and even the romance is well developed and is well paced... Though like a lot of romances, the main couple is immediately drawn together based on some kind of instinct or intrinsic attraction, unlike many such set ups (see Twilight series for the worst offender) there is a real development of this connection, a solid ground for the characters to care about each other and to connect and time is taken for them to actually get to know each other, making the relationship believable and much more compelling. Likewise, the friendships and rivalries are well developed as well, and each character seems unique, with a clear and well developed personality.
In addition to that, the plot moves along very well... though the set up takes a few chapters, once the story gets going there are mysteries to be solved, challenges to be met, action carefully spaced throughout in such a way that it is well woven into the overall plot and not action for action's sake...
On the whole this was an impressively entertaining experience, and I think will appeal to both a YA audience and an older audience as well, since a well done story is a well done story, regardless of the age group it is aimed at.
Also, the narrator does a very good job! There were a few points where I felt the reading was just a tiny bit too slow, but it is a very, very small complaint and in fact worked very well in the more introspective, emotional points in the story...Overall, I recommend!
The publisher summary does not do this book justice and makes it seem frivolous. I wish it would be re-written somehow.
This book is really well done. I am not a young adult. But am a huge sci-fi fan so will read anything good in that genre. This book transcends its teen classification I think, and I suspect people of many age groups can enjoy it.
It is incredibly well written with characters you will come to care about and identify with, even though they live in a world that is completely different from the reality we know... or is it?
Substitute the world "hybrid" for any kind of "different" or any kind of out of favor or hunted/ discriminated against group in our world (unattractive, gay, disabled, of a particular religion, or no religion at all, a minority race, etc - any arbitrary thing a society may refuse to accept as part of human nature and choose to define as "other" or evil). Then imagine your very best friend or your brother or sister or daughter or son or mother, father, etc, in that role of the different, and shunned by the world, expected not to exist - and then imagine you are intrinsically linked to that person, physically in the same body, as close as any 2 people can be, and you are that person's only hope, only chance, but it comes at your own incredible peril...
Now, imagine being the unwanted being in that scenario, totally powerless, with only your one soul mate who you love sharing your body to defend you, to help you. You are powerless and must be hidden as a your existence is a crime, but you have all the needs and hopes and wishes of any being.
Ok, so the premise is very interesting - but many books have interesting premises and fall short. This one does not. It is well written, the story is intelligently developed, the characters are interesting and compelling the plot and theme very well paced.
The reader does a great job too.
Unfortunately, it falls prey to what many of these teen sci-fi stories do, and kind of has a bit of a non-ending, and a set up for a sequel. It is so common, such an ubiquitous book sales trick in this genre that I hate to even single it out for criticism, as I know that is the norm - I just wish the authors could make the first book feel a bit more complete, while still leaving room for a sequel - some do that very well and I think the author of this had that ability. Unfortunately, it sort of just stops with hints of what will come next in an unfinished feeling way - but as I said, so many do that, so I hate to single this out.
However, aside from that one criticism, it isn't a silly romance like so many are, though has the beginnings of some solid relationships that are well fleshed out, but the main thrust of the story is the plight of these persecuted beings, and their struggle. It is suspenseful, well-paced and really compelling at times. Well worth a listen.
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