by Sophie Littlefield
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Survivors / 9781459207769
This is an interesting short story -- only about 30 pages long on my reader -- but it's one of those stories where I felt the whole time that there was another book before the story that I needed to read in order to sink into this one. I notice that the author has a trilogy set in this world (Aftertime, Rebirth, and Horizon), so I almost wonder if it wouldn't be better to read one or more of those first.
"Survivors" is a zombie apocalypse novella, which I usually enjoy, but the zombies aren't really a major presence in this book. Instead, the focus is on the survivors and how they've pieced together a world inside a walled community called "The Box" in the aftermath of the apocalypse. This contributed in some ways to the disorientation I felt as a reader, because there seemed to be a lot of information dispensed as obvious-to-the-author that was nevertheless confusing to me.
For instance, a major point of the novella is that children aren't allowed in The Box because it's 'no place for children', so when a young survivor is brought in from a raid, everyone has to decide what to do with him. The problem for me was that I didn't see why, say, drug addictions and prostitution would make "The Box" inhospitable for children, as compared to, say, the slavering zombie apocalypse outside. Then, too, the mentality seems a little limiting: I guess the denizens of The Box are intending to live hard and die young all at the same time? If the situation was set up more like, say, a cult it might make more sense, but since everyone is presented as a relatively normal person dealing with the harsh realities of the world, this "no children, no procreation" rule just seems a little inhuman. (Not to mention impossible to achieve, unless all the prostitutes of The Box have high-priority raids on pharmacies for birth control pills.)
The writing for this novella isn't the best I've ever read -- there are a lot of long and sometimes convoluted sentences that can be a little confusing. Some of the punctuation could also be edited a bit, as there is an over-reliance on commas that I sympathize with but which is nevertheless distracting to read. Still, all told, this is an interesting novella and you can't beat the current free price on Amazon. For myself, I think I'll watch the Kindle sales and if Aftertime comes on sale, I'll pick it up and start the series over with that book.
~ Ana Mardoll
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