Sunday, March 25, 2012

The zombies are coming

I broke three things this weekend: a drinking glass; a reading record and a wall. First off, the drinking glass slipped from my soapy hands as I was scrubbing it squeaky clean in the sink. One clunk against the side of the sink left one big gash. Bye bye, drinking glass. This means my glassware set is offset. How is my OCD brain supposed to rest at night knowing there's now an odd number in the cupboard? I'll be OK.

I read two whole novels in almost one day. I finished the last few chapters of the second book in the wee hours of this morning, which broke my reading record of most reading in a day. These two books were a series written by Amanda Hocking, a hugely successful author in the indie publishing world. She is the poster child for what all indie authors want to be. I decided to give her a read because of all the hype about the thousands of books she sells per month. Her books are not my kind of read, but I'm quite open minded. So, I thought about it and caved in to curiosity (the same thing that got me to read Twilight and Harry Potter.)

The wall I broke was the one I built to protect me from zombies. Never read a zombie story and never planned to, but I'm a glutton for ... new books. I had my fill of vampires after Twilight's four-book extravaganza that left me wanting to punch Bella in the face. I can't stand hard-shell female characters who act like they are invincible and can't admit they need help. So, anyway, I decided to let the zombies crash down the wall and come into my house via Kindle reader app. So here is what my first zombie apocalypse experience was like.

First book of the two-book series.

The first few pages of this book grossed me out more than hooked me, because it starts off describing a gruesome scene of decapitated zombies and humans oozing all kinds of stuff. I can usually handle that, but this freaked me out. That didn't stop me from reading on. By the time I got to chapter 3, I was pretty much addicted. The story was action-packed and every page seemed to offer a brand new twist. Normally, I get really turned off by typos and will stop reading if I encounter too many. This story was so good, I was able to overlook the numerous typos that stung my eyes along the way.

The explanation for why the zombies existed was pretty decent, an experiment gone bad. Zombie epidemic spread, and people were slaughtered in masses and others turned zombie. So Remy and her 8-year-old bro go on the run after their parents are killed. The world is no longer the same. People are running for cover in mass hysteria and hiding out. Remy and her bro, Max, get separated at a quarantine, because he is "sick" and kept in the medical ward. Zombies break in, and he is shipped out to another compound before she can get to him. She is then forced to flee with some other girls tagging along. As she sets off into the danger zones on foot, she runs into other survivors who join her in her quest to reunite with Max. Not as tacky as I thought it would be, because Hocking is a great storyteller. I could tell Hocking put lots of thought into this one. The way she built up the characters and their relationships with each other, it made me feel like I knew them and cared about them by the end of the book. That's a great result.

Remy seemed determined and on fire. The mission to save her brother was genius in keeping me hooked, especially since she wouldn't reveal what her bro was sick with. Every time her and her entourage stopped somewhere, it was a different adventure. I never knew what to expect, and I love a story that is not predictable. The flirty stuff with her and Lazlo was just right, not too over-the-top cheesy. I was even happy when they briefly hooked up at the end, even though it was basically a one-time deal since she was leaving to finally rescue her bro who was being held in the medical ward like a lab rat in the compound they all ended up in. The sex scene was a bit explicit for being a YA book, I must say. I knew there was a book 2, and I was hyped to read what would become of them, the brother and the other major characters like Harlow - the bratty but witty young girl, and Blue - the medical student who was very logical. The minute I finished this book, I jumped on and bought the sequel ...

Second book in the series.
This one also started off totally grossing me out, but I kept reading. This time, I kept reading because I was hungry to find out what happened to everyone! So, she's basically the lab rat now. Doctors are doing biopsies and surgeries on her with no anesthesia, ugh! Oh, but after they leave her in the middle of a surgery because the zombie sirens went off, she still had energy to wiggle (while strapped down) enough to tip the table over (with a hole in her abdomen) and get herself free. She sews herself up (OK!) and goes out to find an escape.

I so badly wanted to like this book, I swear. But so many things ended up annoying the hell out of me. I rolled my eyes so many times, I got a headache. Hours after this escape, Remy is karate chopping zombies and doing pushups and situps, which made me "lol." She joins a group that was leaving the compound and heads out on a similar journey to reunite with her bro again. Remember, she set him free and took his place as a lab rat. This time, the journey was really monotonous and predictable. No adventures other than zombie slaying, finding rest stops, looking for food scraps and people dying left and right. All the characters that I was made to fall in love with in the first book don't even play any role in this one! That made me go "wtf!" Remy has a new love interest who she makes out with in a room where her friend just died in her arms and was still laying slaughtered in the bathroom. Oh, and the friend got slaughtered while saving her from being raped and murdered, but she makes out with a soldier a few feet away just minutes later. Are you serious!? Wow.

This book was considerably weaker than the first and seemed very rush-written. I think if she had just written a solid ending in the first book, it would have not needed a sequel. Worst of all, it was infested with typos! Bad ones like "allright," missing words and extra words. The dialogue was so BORING with lots of "Are you ok?" and "It's not your fault." "Yes, it's all my fault!" "No! It's not!" Lots of redundancy too, about the same-old, same-old sentiments about zombies taking over and will the world ever be safe again, rah, rah, rah. Unlike the first book, I felt like I was forcing myself to turn the pages this time. The ending pissed me off, too, because it was so open-ended. Hate those kinds. It left me saying "That's it? Come on!"

Hocking is a natural at what she does. I still say this book series was great, despite the disappointment of the second book. It had serious potential and can still be saved, me thinks. I may even give her other series a try. That's my 20 cents!

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