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Never Let Me: Never Let Me Sleep, Never Let Me Leave, Never Let Me Die (Melissa Allen) Paperback – January 26, 2016
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Horror collides with science fiction in this omnibus edition of Brozek’s Melissa Allen trilogy, which sees a savvy teenager fighting to save the world from evil. In “Never Let Me Sleep,” virtually everyone in South Dakota falls asleep and dies. Only 14-year-old Melissa, a bipolar paranoid schizophrenic on house arrest, survives. Because of her immunity to whatever killed everyone else, she’s tasked by Homeland Security to find the source and stop it, but first she has to defeat terrifying insectoid aliens. In “Never Let Me Leave,” Melissa meets several other teenagers who’ve survived unusual phenomena; soon they’re trapped in a secured scientific facility with an alien capable of possessing humans. In “Never Let Me Die,” Melissa and the survivors of the previous incident undertake a hazardous mission that again brings them into contact with their alien foes. Brozek’s protagonist is a feisty, memorable heroine who copes rather well with her mental illness as long as she takes her medication; unfortunately, Brozek never takes advantage of the narrative potential in Melissa’s tenuous grasp of reality. These installments hold together as a three-part story, but they also feel like a setup for a continuing series, with the focus gradually shifting from a horror survival story to an alien conspiracy thriller. Though some elements require extreme suspension of disbelief, this is a strong, entertaining tale. (Feb.) (Publisher's Weekly)
About the Author
Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award-nominated editor and an award-winning author.
Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited fourteen anthologies, she has published more than sixty short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions. Jennifer also is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies and winner of both the Origins and the ENnie awards.
When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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The main character, fourteen-year-old Melissa Allen, is under house arrest and taking medications for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. She lives on a schedule of medications and check-ins for the ankle monitor she is wearing. Until the day she wakes up to find that everyone for hundreds of miles around is dead.
Armed with "Mister Bat", an aluminum baseball bat, Melissa sets out to become the unlikely apocalyptic hero who needs to save the world while making sure that she can trust what she is seeing and hearing.
The stories are loaded with pop culture references that will delight geeky readers, not to mention a fun awareness by the main character who suddenly finds herself living in a horror movie and determined not to die by the same mistakes that characters in the movies make.
The first two stories are science fiction/horror, with the initial scenario reminiscent of Dean Koontz's Phantoms (but with a more coherent plot!), and the second going for a Body-Snatchers vibe. In the third it morphs into more of an espionage tale with some SF elements that reminded me of Heinlein's Puppet Masters.
The series adds some good characters as it goes. The action is always crisp, and the pacing fast. There are a few places where the characters make some questionable decisions, but they are all portrayed as flawed and inexperienced, so the mistakes make logical sense.
Author Jennifer Brozek has done her homework, especially on the medical aspects of the stories. Injuries are realistic, as is the depiction of Melissa's drug regimen for her mental illness. And Melissa's condition is neither glamorized not stigmatized.
The bonus short story wraps up a few hanging details, and there is definitely tons of potential for the series to continue.
The trilogy was very good. I love that the other characters interact with Melissa a lot. It isn't a story where the main character is near perfect and can do everything herself, but she is no where near a cripple that barely qualifies as a main character. It is interesting seeing her get through her challenges in the book. The Fedoras are interesting, and they are described in detail, so I can easily imagine them. I like how the story is pretty fast paced and consistent, not too slow or too fast. Sometimes I have to deal with books constantly changing between fast and slow. I have had to deal with that in a lot of novels. It is fast enough to keep me guessing, but not too fast that I can't understand any of what is going on. All the characters are very well developed, except for one. Ian only pops up in book two, and in book three we hear no mention of him. We have no clue what happened to him. That is my only complaint. Other than that it is an excellent story. It is so good I want my own Mister Bat.
Never Let Me Die, like Never Let Me Sleep and Never Let Me Leave, was a fun and exciting read that I consumed in a single sitting. It was a fitting end to the trilogy, but I do hope to see more of these characters some day! I highly recommend these books for anyone who likes YA, sf/f, or just a great story with a unique protagonist.