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Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield

Title: Aftertime (Aftertime #1)

Author: Sophie Littlefield

Publisher: Luna 2011

Genre: Dystopian, Zombie

Pages: 384

Rating:   5 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges:  Zombies; Support Your Local Library

How I Got It: Library Loan

Awakening in a bleak landscape as scarred as her body, Cass Dollar vaguely recalls surviving something terrible. Having no idea how many weeks have passed, she slowly realizes the horrifying truth: Ruthie has vanished.And with her, nearly all of civilization.Where once-lush hills carried cars and commerce, the roads today see only cannibalistic Beaters—people turned hungry for human flesh by a government experiment gone wrong.

In a broken, barren California, Cass will undergo a harrowing quest to get Ruthie back. Few people trust an outsider, let alone a woman who became a zombie and somehow turned back, but she finds help from an enigmatic outlaw, Smoke. Smoke is her savior, and her safety.

For the Beaters are out there.

And the humans grip at survival with their trigger fingers. Especially when they learn that she and Ruthie have become the most feared, and desired, of weapons in a brave new world….

A dystopian world inhabited by Beaters and survivors.  I loved the bleak feel of this novel.  It didn’t try to glamorize the end of the world as we know it.  The book showed the stark reality of surviving in this new and desolate world.  The graphic description of desolation is haunting.  We really get a feel for the nothingness that is left.  I appreciate this departure from the fancy dystopian novels I’ve read in the past.

The characters are memorable.  No one is a clear likable character.  Instead each one has good and bad qualities; much like you find in real people.  Sometimes I wanted to hug Cass and others I wanted to smack her.  She’s real.  She has problems.  She has past issues.  She has insecurities.  But she also has a drive to survive and reclaim her daughter.  Smoke is an enigma.  We don’t get a huge amount of information from or about him, but we understand that Cass must rely on someone.  I predict that he becomes a white knight in the end.  Hopefully we get more from him in future books.  There’s too many other minor characters to list, but they all made an impression.  I can’t wait to read the next book.

Aftertime:

  1. Aftertime
  2. Rebirth
  3. Horizon
  4. Survivors — ebook novella

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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The Elephant Mountains by Scott Ely

Title: The Elephant Mountains

Author:  Scott Ely

Publisher: Orca 2011

Genre: YA dystopian/survival

Pages: 203

Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: A to Z Authors: E

How I Got It: ARC from LibraryThing Early Reviews Program

 Global warming and an unprecedented series of hurricanes have put New Orleans and most of the low-lying areas of the South underwater.  In the chaos and anarchy that results as cities and towns are abandoned, fifteen-year-old Stephen is suddenly left to fend for himself.  He soon encounters Angela, a college student whose parents have been killed.  Navigating the labyrinth of flooded fields and towns in an airboat, the two set out in search of Stephen’s mother and higher ground.  Armed with both guns and the skills his survivalist father has taught him, Stephen struggles to maintain hope and his humanity in the face of violence and desperation.

An interesting plotline, but I think the book failed to live up to the promise.  I love dystopian/survival literature.  I think it has to do with my love of zombies.  But really any survival stories are right up my alley.  I started this book seeing the scary potential future.  What Ely predicts could happen.  Hurricanes and global warming could rise the waters enough to swallow a lot of the low-lying southern lands.  New Orleans would be toast.  Florida would disappear.  And the rest would be under varying amounts of water.  People would have to flee to higher ground or attempt to ride out the water.  Anarchy and chaos would reign if it happened quick enough.  I bought all of the environmental changes.  I bought the desperation the changes brought.  I could imagine all this happening.  Those parts of the book rang true. 

Unfortunately, the characters fell flat.  Stephen, while the most interesting character, seemed lost; as if he didn’t have a personality apart from the “not quite a man” status.  I couldn’t quite connect to his inner struggles.  Angela started as an interesting character but quickly got lost.  She portrayed herself as a devout Christian, but then that aspect fell away.  I would have liked more consistency with the character.  And everyone else was only in the picture for a few pages each.  We met someone, shared a few stories, and then they disappeared or were killed.  I get that it is supposed to be a fairly solitary journey, but I would have liked to spend a little more time with some of those characters. 

Overall, an interesting premise.  But it didn’t quite follow through.  I would recommend to fans of dystopian/survival literature.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

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This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: This World We Live In (The Last Survivors #3)

Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publisher: Harcourt 2010

Genre: YA dystopian

Pages: 239

Rating:  2  / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Support Your Local Library; Fantasy

How I Got It: borrowed from library

It’s been a year since a meteor collided with the moon, catastrophically altering the earth’s climate. For Miranda Evans, life as she knew it no longer exists. Her friends and neighbors are dead, the landscape is frozen, and food is increasingly scarce.

The struggle to survive intensifies when Miranda’s father and stepmother arrive with a baby and three strangers in tow. One of the newcomers is Alex Morales, and as Miranda’s complicated feelings for him turn to love, his plans for his future thwart their relationship.

I wanted to like this book.  I really did.  I mostly enjoyed the first two books.  But this one just completely threw me.  I understand the concept that after the upheaval caused by the moon, society would dramatically change.  However, I do not understand why everyone has to be either evil or whiny egotists.  All the whiny, the fighting, the little regard for each other got to me.  I really started to hate many of the characters.  First Syl (my least favorite of the characters), then Matt (for his treatment of family after Syl comes along), then Lisa (she was always a bit selfish, even more now), then Laura (agoraphobic, anyone?), then Miranda (she was always whiny), and finally Alex (his self-righteous “God will save us” act just pissed me off).  By the end of the book, I didn’t care of who lived.  I was just done with the series.  The only reason the book still earned 2 stars is because of the first two books.  I liked them (not loved, but liked) so I had to see the story to the author’s intended conclusion.  Definitely glad that I borrowed this one from the library.  I will be returning it ASAP to get something that I hope is better reading.

Last Survivors
1. Life as We Knew It 
2. The Dead and the Gone 
3. This World We Live In 

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

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The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: The Dead and the Gone (The Last Survivors #2)

Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publisher: Graphia 2010

Genre: YA dystopian

Pages: 308

Rating:  4 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Support Your Local Library

How I Got It: borrowed from library

An asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, and every conceivable natural disaster occurs. Seventeen-year-old Alex Morales’s parents are missing and presumed drowned by tsunamis. Left alone, he struggles to care for his sisters Bri, 14, and Julie, 12. Things look up as Central Park is turned into farmland and food begins to grow. Then worldwide volcanic eruptions coat the sky with ash and the land freezes permanently. People starve, freeze, or die of the flu. Only the poor are left in New York—a doomed island—while the rich light out for safe towns inland and south. The wooden, expository dialogue and obvious setup of the first pages quickly give way to the well-wrought action of the snowballing tragedy. —Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library  Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Another mixed book for me.  Good, but not great.  In this volume we enter the same world as Life As We Knew It, but move the setting to NYC and the Morales family.  I definitely liked Alex much better than Miranda.  He was a much more sensible character.  I really rooted for him and his sisters to survive and escape from Manhattan.  I’m glad Pfeffer abandoned the first person diary entries for third person diary-like entries.  We don’t get as much inner blah monologue.  We see the story unfold from Alex’s perspective and hear his thoughts, but everything in much more streamlined.  The story was accurately horrific in scenes and actions.  The first book was almost completely insulated in the family home.  In this one we get out and about, seeing what has happened all over Manhattan and hearing about the rest of the country.

My complaints about the novel center on the focus on the Catholic faith.  The Morales family are devout Catholics.  Okay.  But often it seems that Pfeffer brings that fact to the forefront without much considering to its use.  Why are we constantly reminded by the Moraleses themselves that they’re Catholic?  I would think that they know that fact already.  I would have like to see the faith through actions as opposed to direct words.  Those passages started to grate on me, but the fast-moving plotline kept the book from being abandoned.

Now, off to the conclusion of the trilogy…

Last Survivors
1. Life as We Knew It 
2. The Dead and the Gone 
3. This World We Live In 

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

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Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: Life as We Knew It  (The Last Survivors #1)

Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publisher: Graphia 2008

Genre: YA dystopian

Pages: 337

Rating:   4 / 5 stars

Reading Challenges: Support Your Local Library; 2011 — To YA or YA Not

How I Got It: borrowed from the library

It’s almost the end of Miranda’s sophomore year in high school, and her journal reflects the busy life of a typical teenager: conversations with friends, fights with mom, and fervent hopes for a driver’s license. When Miranda first begins hearing the reports of a meteor on a collision course with the moon, it hardly seems worth a mention in her diary. But after the meteor hits, pushing the moon off its axis and causing worldwide earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, all the things Miranda used to take for granted begin to disappear. Food and gas shortages, along with extreme weather changes, come to her small Pennsylvania town; and Miranda’s voice is by turns petulant, angry, and finally resigned, as her family is forced to make tough choices while they consider their increasingly limited options. Yet even as suspicious neighbors stockpile food in anticipation of a looming winter without heat or electricity, Miranda knows that that her future is still hers to decide even if life as she knew it is over.

I really wanted to love this book.  Dystopian novels are right up my alley.  They’re like my love of disaster films, not matter how cheesy.  So I went into this book wanting to love it, and I just liked it.  It was good, but not great…

The Good

The plot about the moon being pushed closer to us because of an asteroid and then wrecking our entire ecosystem is one I haven’t read about in awhile.  I liked the background story.  I liked that the story was told from one family’s (or really one person’s) perspective.  It made the horrors and uncertainty that much more real.  The story then becomes a struggle for survival.  What happens to life when almost everything is stripped away?  We get to see how the family deals with it.  Even though the story covers almost a year, the writing kept up the pace.  It didn’t fall into the dullness that I thought it would.  I appreciate that.

The Not-So-Good

The style of the book.  It’s written as Miranda’s diary entries.  Okay, not a bad gimmick.  But after while, I started to hate her whining.  I felt that I was listening to a 13-year-old girl whine and pick fights with her mom than a 16-year-old girl.  Maybe I don’t remember all this whining at 16.  It’s possible that that’s what all 16-year-old girls are like, but I really don’t remember that.  And after awhile, I just really wanted to slap her.  Also I couldn’t stand the character of Megan, the fundamentalist Christian.  I couldn’t tell what the point of having her in the story way…  Are we to sympathize with the her struggles or think she’s just crazy?  Either way, it felt like too much of a plot gimmick.

So, there we go.  Good, but not great.  At any rate, I’ll be reading the second and third books of the trilogy.

Last Survivors
1. Life as We Knew It 
2. The Dead and the Gone 
3. This World We Live In 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 14, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

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