on July 24, 2013
I had mixed feelings about this book.
Allison is at work when the zombie apocalypse happens she and her co-workers hide in the break room managing to survive for awhile in there on junk food. Allison blogs about how she and the others survive, their trials and how they are doing in an effort to locate help.
I liked the delivery of this is was unique, having the main character blogging. There were even comment from other survivors under the "posts". It was interesting.
The beginning is a little slow, mainly because for the majority of it they are locked in the break room. Mostly it's them bickering about what to do and whats going on. Things pick up as Allison convinces them they need to leave and move upstairs. Finally some zombie killing, they meet another survivor who makes Allison question herself. She makes some bad decisions, and we see a very violent side to her. The thing is Allison had a habit of making reckless and bad decisions, yet people followed her because she was strong. People kept dropping around her and she'd just pick up more strays. It bugged me, even though yeah she felt bad and tried to go off on her own, she couldn't shake those loyal followers.
Another thing that disappointed me was the reviews claimed this to be funny, other than a few one liners I didn't find it witty or humorous. The plot was ok, but there was a lot of lag when they were in the break room, and at university. I might have stopped reading if the religious zealots hadn't kidnapped Allison. It finally broke up the boring parts.
Over all it was an ok book, but had it's issues.
on September 8, 2012
I really wanted to like this novel -- I mean, a story about a group of book lovers trapped by zombies HAS to be fun, right?
But though I found it entertaining enough overall, especially in the beginning, it took a turn for the boring and befuddled somewhere around the midpoint, and I found myself increasingly frustrated by the author's lack of thoughtful use of the story's primary gimmick: the book is a collection of blog posts, complete with comments from "readers," and I really feel like Roux wasted an opportunity to do something truly interesting with that set-up. More on that in a bit.
Here's how the story goes: Allison Hewitt is one of a group of bookstore employees recently trapped together by the zombie apocalypse. Luckily, she's trapped with a still-functional laptop and a working wi-fi network, and she immediately starts to blog her situation to anybody who might still be alive out there in the world.
As supplies begin to run low and morale collapses (no bathrooms and a steady diet of break-room beef jerky will do that for you), Allison manages to convince a couple of her colleagues to join her in a quest to get to the apartments above the store and see if any of them are habitable. She grabs a fire axe, the others grabbing baseball bats and fire extinguishers, and together, they burst out into the store, whacking zombie heads left and right, and scramble upstairs. (The zombie fight scenes are a little "been there, done that," I'll grant you, but still fun.)
After some exploration, they decide the group's gotta move in. They can't stay in the break-room -- the time for panic has passed, they're alive and likely to stay that way if they're careful, and it's time to move forward. The group takes over two apartments and tries settling down into a more manageable life. But when Allison discovers a broadcasting radio station, the gang decides the next step is to leave the building altogether and try to make it over to the university campus -- where the broadcast is coming from and where, the broadcaster reports, a large group of survivors have begin to collect.
Maybe Allison's mother is there, you see? Maybe Phil's family. They can't ignore the possibility, so they set out with what little supplies they have left in pursuit of a larger community.
Most of the group manages to make it to campus safely, but that's where the story starts to fall apart. There's a bizarre plot twist involving a group of fanatically religious women who kidnap and torture Allison and her friends; a boring, boring, borrrrrring love story between Allison and an astronomy professor; and a gang of militant survivors trying to force themselves into power, shooting anybody who dares challenge their authority.
Most of the second half of the book is an absolute mess, with a lot of inconsistencies in the story and subplots I feel like I've seen/read a million times already in both the zombie and post-apocalyptic genres. That might've been okay, though, were it not for my increasing frustration over the blog format.
The problem was that I felt Roux could've done more with that device, and I was annoyed that she wasn't bothering. Despite the fact it made little sense Allison was able to keep a laptop running AND access a still-operational wi-fi network (whatever -- I was willing to roll with it), when I first realized Roux was going to include comments from readers, I got a little bit excited. I was expecting a whole second storyline to develop in the comments section, as people chimed in from all over, swapping stories and advice, starting flame wars from all the stress and anxiety, forming relationships between themselves and with Allison, etc. All the stuff that typically DOES happen in a blog comment section (hi, guys!). At the very least, I was expecting more emotionally charged content and question-asking. What's going on? My god, I just had to kill my own mother. That sort of thing.
Instead, there are only a couple of comments per "post," and most of them are totally vacuous (Keep fighting, Allison! Hey, we're on a boat, tra la!). Disappointing. Occasionally, Roux tried to shove in an incongruously-timed comment from a reader suddenly logging on to despair, and once there was a father posting about his infected son, but none of these comments were particularly emotionally evocative, in part because the replies to them from Allison and other "readers" were usually bizarrely cavalier and quick. Instead of exploring what that father might be going through, for example, Allison just says something flip like, "He's not your son anymore -- kill him!"
Man, great opportunity wasted to explore some of the painful, personal side of the whole end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it thing, instead of just the gleeful zombie-killing adventure side (which is mostly what this novel deals with -- nobody seems to think twice about killing anybody in this book, even zombies they recognize, which I just found strange, though that's not uncommon in the genre, really).
One positive note: I did like the fact each blog post/chapter's name was a relevant book title (In Defense of Food, A Room with a View, Things Fall Apart, e.g.) -- clever, but not enough to save this novel from its thorough lack of originality. That was what the format needed, and failed, to do.
Overall, I'd say this one's definitely worth picking up if you're in the mood for something brainless (pun intended) and fun, but while I did find it entertaining (I read the whole thing, after all), after reading the excerpt from Roux's upcoming second novel (included at the end of this book), I don't think I'll be going on from here.
on April 7, 2016
I tried to like this book, I really did. Especially after reading the author's other book "Asylum" which I really loved and which had some great characters and really nice pacing. When I realized the author had written in the zombie genre (a favorite of mine) I had to pick up this novel and try it out. As it turns out, this was one of those VERY rare books that I couldn't finish. I made it maybe slightly more than halfway through it and then gave up. In the beginning stages, I kept thinking "it HAS to get better than this" and so made a deal with myself that I would read at least a hundred pages before putting it down, because I figured it really had to get good eventually. Eventually I gave up.
What it boils down to for me, is this: the book just meanders along like a stream that never really seems to go anywhere. The opening hundred (it seems) chapters or so detail the ragtag group that's trapped in a breakroom waiting out the apocalypse. Occasionally they will venture out for candy or supplies. Then they run back. That's about it. No story. No arc. No character arcs. Just a bunch of names on a page who occasionally argue with each other, curse a lot, and then go look for stuff and run back. It is mind numbing.
The characters: like I said, just a bunch of names on a page. There's no personality, nothing interesting about any of them, they're just people stuck in a room. Allison herself should probably be more interesting for being the narrator/protagonist, but her sole function seems to be to curse at random times and just be morbid all over the place. Did I mention I detest morbid POV characters?
Speaking of cursing... i find it odd that a book aimed to a YA audience would contain so many F-Bombs. I mean, there's an average of one about every two pages. I get that people curse in the real world, but you don't usually see that in YA novels (at least not the ones I've read), especially on this scale. The F-Bombs are everywhere. While an F-Bomb can occasionally be used artistically to add emphasis to a scene or make a point or whatever, it seems the author was determined to fill a quota and so Alison drops these words at the most random and unnecessary times that it yanked me out of the story every time. I shudder to think at the YA audience who reads this novel.
So just when I think they are going to stay in the break room until the end of time, they finally leave and end up trapped in some university jail, only to be let out by some old dude who, coincidentally, is someone Alison is familiar with. That amazing coincidence aside, the book almost started to pick up at this point, but then it started dragging again in the worst possible way. I found the subplot involving Alison's mother to be beyond the realm of believability, that in this whole big city she would randomly find a purse (or whatever it was) on the ground that just so happened to belong to her mother. Imagine the odds of that!
Alas, I gave up. I could not finish it. Eventually it began causing me anguish to read it.