Author: Tom Lewis
Genres: Dystopia | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction
Length: 174 pages | 2435 locations
Following odd electrical occurrences throughout the entire world, people black out. When they wake up, they find odd implants on their necks and the landscape around them has been devastated.
Then the ships come and all hell breaks loose.
We follow teenager Paige and other folks she comes across trying to survive their new reality. It’s not going to be easy because not only are they obviously under an alien attack but also the implants turn people into raging, murderous monsters.
This is the first book in the After the Fall series.
This book contains so many good ideas! Really.
But there were several major issues which caused me to lose interest shortly after having begun reading the book.
For instance, the writing was just dreadful. In those first few lines, three of my pet peeves immediately stood out:
– Exclamation points. I hate seeing exclamation points in a narrative. Words should be powerful enough not to need those to make us feel excited.
– Repetitiveness, both entire descriptions in general – I kept feeling I was reading the same thing over and over again – and specific words.
The same word would be used to describe something shortly after just being used. And I grew so tired of reading those phosphorescent stones and as she was now thinking of it and other expressions I kept seeing.
Example which includes these two points, right from the 4th chapter (13% into the book): Jeff’s fist smashed through the window! He grabbed Chad, yanking him through the window(…).
– Again, a punctuation issue: ending a question with a period. It kept happening more often with rhetorical questions and in dialogues, and it was just so annoying to me.
There were several misspellings, wrong verb tenses, syntax and grammar errors, etc, etc.
I hate to rub it in, but I felt the writing was so bad that on several occasions I seriously contemplated putting the book down. I was sick and tired of rolling my eyes at some of the things I read, and trudging through the mess of words. But I endured because I did not want this to be the first book I marked as DNF ever since I started reading and reviewing books.
But the fact is that it wasn’t just the issues I mentioned above. Plotwise, the book was equally messy. From the beginning:
– some things seemed to be assumed out of the blue, just for the sake of keeping the plot in motion;
– there is no emotion at all;
– everything that needed a build up to provoke any impact whatsoever in the reader does not have one, it is all so rushed!
All this and more made me constantly feel like I was reading the rough idea of what a book should be like instead of the finished project.
The characters… I often found myself thinking they did not sound the age they were, particularly the youngest – Trish and Randy.
And don’t even get me started about our main character. Although I truly appreciated the two bits of narration of Paige’s past, because they served to understand at least a bit of why she became so angry, as a whole, Paige’s character annoyed the heck out of me. She goes from this annoying, rebellious girl to a hero in a heartbeat, with no transition whatsoever. One minute she is a prettier than average, normal high school student, rude and full of teenage angst, and the next she is hollering strategic orders like a well-trained general. Why? Because her dad was an Army Ranger, apparently. As if that explains anything. What does that even mean?? Did he take her to work? Did he teach his rebellious daughter how to handle machine guns (which work even when wet!!) and explosives, and what tear gas look/felt/smelled like (or however she figured it out) and how to handle it? Cause she acts like she was born knowing how to do it and, with all her I have an ideas, is just plain perfect in everything she does.
Mind you, she never drops the annoying, rebellious act (which is, apparently, supposed to be something endearing about her). It just softens the tiniest bit because a guy was kind to her. From then on, we proceed to hear all about how her walls are dropping. Or there are like fissures in them. Over. And over. Again.
I get it, that is supposed to be the main thing we take from the book as far as character growth comes for Paige. It’s just a shame that it was so exhaustively repetitive, and that it was the only instance in which she grew at all during the whole process.
The way the whole book developed was like Paige and the people she met along the way knew exactly what to do, how to handle all situations, almost as if it had already happened or someone had planned what to do in case something like this happened.
And their attitudes… They were being invaded by aliens with technology they could not possibly even begin to fathom, but were all like you hurt my friend(s), I am gonna kill you scum. It all just sounded so unrealistic.
Everything was presented in an overly simplistic manner, there was no progression of feeling or skill development, and I constantly felt that important things like information, transitions and build-up kept being skipped.
For example, right in the beginning, Paige immediately figures out what the implants were doing. There is no build up whatsoever, everything moves way too fast.
There are so many plot holes I would not even know where to begin. And how ridiculous is it that these implants which are obviously so powerful can be so fragile as to fall off when she is shoved to the ground? Seriously, people are killing themselves, or at least injuring each other much worse than a little shove, and everyone is mind-controlled but her?
And Chad… He had to be one of the first people taken for experiments (after all, they took him on what, the first day? Second at most?) and yet when they find him days or weeks later he is still human, while many others are in much more advanced stages of the process? How convenient is that??
Sorry, it just didn’t cut it for me.
I was also extremely upset at how the aliens were portrayed. At first, they are conveyed as sort of misguided in their ways, but having an intention which could be considered almost noble, at least when it comes to preserving the planet, even if how they want to achieve it is awful. But there is hope, you know? Maybe, with enough plot twists, the heroes could, who knows, fix it all somehow, like convince them otherwise, or at least try to do so, which would introduce some proper conflict to the narrative. But no. They just had to be presented as absolutely vicious and sadistic beings who take pleasure in watching humans suffer.
And the dome. What is the point of the dome? Aren’t the invaders everywhere, easily controlling everyone with implants? How were the survivors even able to establish a colony out in the open, if the aliens have all these drones and other cool tech?…
As I mentioned, there is also not much emotion. People who are supposedly very dear to our main character die in a horrible manner and she does not seem affected at all by it. Sure, I get that she was in shock. But I could not even tell if Paige’s brother was dead – yes, there was a huge wound to his throat, but does no one care to check? Paige and Chad immediately think of getting out of there? And her only reaction to her best friend being dead is to drop her head?
And much later, when everyone is used to their new environment (how??), there is way too much laughing and chuckling and flirting and I am like… What the hell?? That much humour seemed completely out-of-place. A couple of times in key situations was ok but, again, I got the feeling that every single person I was reading about was easily settled in this new reality, to the point where they kept making jokes and always knew what to do and were just utterly unrealistically brave and capable.
Believe it or not, I really, really hate giving harsh input about a book like this. And underneath all these issues, I really do believe there is a great story, with a fast, engaging pace. The strength of this book is all in the world creation, even though it literally happened overnight. But still, some descriptions of that world were creepy and stunning and I truly enjoyed them. Or the idea of them, if not the way they were convened. Especially the fleshy tunnels – that one stayed with me for a while -, and the pods with their membranes and amniotic fluid. The different effects the implants could produce was also one of the highlights for me, and kept me guessing the entire time. The language itself is crystal clear; it was very easy to understand what was going on. The cover looks equally impressive. And because of all that I am rounding the rating up instead of down.
But the book utterly fails when it comes to proper explanations of what is happening, backstory, character development, and just some oomph! Something that made me love what I was reading, capable of fully engaging me in the story. Too often I felt like I was being dragged around without having had any time to process anything, or had info to do it, for that matter.
It just needs a lot of work and there is no way I would mark this as a finished product.
I am, however, quite certain that someone much younger would enjoy this book a whole lot more than I did. Sadly, it was not my cup of tea.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from May 31 to Jun 03, 2015