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Earthweeds (Sons of Neptune Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 358 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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It first introduces mystery elements, then fantastic creatures, and then menacing human characters. Gradually the science fiction elements take center stage. It’s a narrative that holds our interest. The story provides plenty of drama and tension, but the weird events are handled in the more lighthearted style of classic science fiction.
That some protagonists are young men and women adds tension to their efforts to survive. Some of them were too young to be fully comfortable yet in the normal world, and now they are forced to adjust to a strange new reality. They inhabit a post-apocalyptic world that is devoid of zombies. There are, instead, some fresh ideas grafted onto dangers and challenges that would be familiar to the original readers of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It’s a very interesting mix.
There is another feature here that made Earthweeds work great for me. A certain amount of violence and brutality is inevitable in post-apocalyptic fiction, science fiction or otherwise. In this series, such matters are largely handled off-screen, or in the characters’ recollections. The reader is spared the more graphic and lurid violence that is so common in books and movies these days. I appreciated that.
My first impression of Earthweeds was very Walking Dead-esque. For those of you who aren't ardent fans of the AMC Walking Dead series, the first Walking Dead episode has Rick Grimes, the show's primary protagonist, waking up in a decrepit hospital after being shot. As he wanders the unexpectedly abandoned hospital, he finds himself in a world of ruin and danger. The teenage protagonists of Earthweeds are out in the woods, having been camping and hunting for an extended time, as the Earthweeds apocalypse arrives. On their way back to civilization, the streets are empty of people (live or dead) and derelict cars litter the roadways.
But after these early similarities, the action of Earthweeds takes a decidedly different turn. Zombies are replaced by giant man-eating lizards (crocodile/alligator-sized). As the story progresses, we learn more about what's happening, though the mechanics of how or why things have happened to some people and not others remains a little vague. Also, a couple of the characters in the story have "special" abilities that are very comic book superhero-ish. Since this book appears to be set (more or less) in the real world and not in a super-hero fantasy world, I was hoping for more explanation for the characters' super-powers.
This was the first Rod Little book I've read, so I have a few comments about his writing style -
Rod is fond of foreshadowing events in the book. And he does it a lot. And a little too blatantly. I'm fine with subtle foreshadowing, but I'm not a fan of a more heavy-handed approach to spilling the story's upcoming events.
The narration style throughout the book felt a little weird. The narrator explained things that the characters should have been completely unaware of. Yet the narrator's voice wasn't presented as an independent party telling the story, it was just kind of jammed into the text as if the characters were aware of things.
The book ends on a cliff-hanger, though not one that I really cared about. I was much more interested in how the survivors managed to survive and what was coming next for them in this new, mostly-uninhabited, world full of mutated animals. But, sadly, that seemed to be a secondary focus of the story. Also, in addition to the giant lizards terrorizing the book's survivors, there were two other mutated animal classes and one of those never really received any action in the story, other than being mentioned as a third group of mutations. So I don't know if their involvement is being saved for book 2 or if they were too uninteresting to get more story time. Maybe there's a Tolkien-inspired battle of five armies story coming in book two.
As for my overall impression, I liked the Walking Dead vibe I was picking up early on and had high hopes. I went in with zero expectations because, as with most eBooks, I didn't really know anything about the book before I started reading it and it didn't have a cover to inspect beforehand for clues. I thought the book started strong and ended less-strong. As I mentioned above, there were aspects of the author's writing style that I didn't love, but I think I would have been more willing to overlook those shortcomings had the story focused more on the survivors' efforts to survive and not the little green men...I've said too much.