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I had a birthday at the beginning of this month. I asked only for books this year. And boy, did I get them!

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I had also made a used-bookstore run a few days before my birthday, so between the two events, I ended up with a hefty bunch.

Somehow when I was making wishlists I didn't realize that a huge percentage of the books I asked for are either dystopians or post-apocalyptics. Observe:

Relevant titles: UNWIND , FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS , PARTIALS, and SHATTER ME,

LIFE AS WE KNEW IT

UNWIND I read several years ago. But I got through FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, SHATTER ME, LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, and PARTIALS all in the space of about four days. So here are reviews of my four post-apocalypses. It's not fair to compare, but I did. The results, from worst to best.

#4 SHATTER ME

Brief premise summary: The post-apocalypse part is murky this is more of a dystopia but the planet has been environmentally devastated and taken over by an autocratic government. Seventeen-year-old protagonist, Juliette, is imprisoned because she has the mysterious ability to torture and kill people by touching them (think Rogue from X-Men). She has been an outcast her whole life, hated by her parents, committed to a mental asylum and not spoken to for nearly a year. And then this military government guy takes her out of the asylum and wants to use her as a weapon.

When my friend saw the cover of this book, she commented that it didn't seem like my sort of thing at all. (I just looked on the author's website and they've redesigned it. For that reason maybe?) Anyway, I was optimistic. I'd read the first page on Amazon before I asked for it, and it seemed well-written and inventive.

It was, I suppose, both those things. For the first while. But. The characters we're flat and plot took a distinct back seat to romance. The twists we're downright predictable. And the main character had a Twilight-esque tendency towards inducing men to be in love with her. It's a first novel, and it reads like one a little bit too much wish fulfillment, too much time spent in the main character's head, too much dramatic emotion flung around. People kept telling Juliette what a wonderful, good, kind person she was, how everything she does is good (she is also beautiful and talented). This isn't Twilight she does the rescuing. But she didn't ring true for me at all.

The author is a decent writer. But the book was first and foremost a Girl Romance Novel. I guess I shouldn't have expected any different but I was hoping for more world, more character, fewer teenage romantic flutterings. It held my attention, but I didn't love it.

#3 PARTIALS

Summary: It's like 2050 and the government genetically engineered lots of soldiers ("partials," robot-people) to win a war, and then we're turned on, a virus was released, and humanity was wiped out. Except for about 40,000 people with natural immunity, who eleven years later now are stuck on Long Island, with the partials having taken over the rest of the continent. No baby has survived more than three days in the last eleven years, since the virus takes over, and the protagonist, 16-year-old Kira, is a medical student searching for a cure. (And trying to avoid mandatory pregnancy laws, which are passed presuming that if enough babies are born, more will be immune.)

If SHATTER ME is obviously a Girl Book, PARTIALS is a Boy Book. I mean, you wouldn't think it would be. The protagonist is a girl and female reproduction is a central point around which the plot rotates. It was, however, very military and a very structural take on the post-apocalypse. SHATTER ME felt like a paranormal romance; PARTIALS felt like science fiction.

I am not saying girls don't read that kind of fiction, because I do, and I enjoyed the book. It was well-written and pretty well-put together. I didn't love Kira, though, and some plot twists at the end we're a bit routine. I do recommend it, though, if you like sci-fi.

#2 FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS

Summary: Post-apocalyptic Persuasion! Scientists found a way to switch genes to "optimal" settings, creating superhumans, but these superhumans found that the children they gave birth to we're stunted and mentally barely functional ("Reduced"). Society destroyed itself, and the only people left we're the Luddites- the people who refused genetic modification.

Now, many generations later, wealthy Luddites run what's left of the world (one island, as far as they know), ruling the remaining Reduced. But the Reduced have started to produce normal children, and the social order is shifting. Elliott North is the daughter of a vain and impoverished Luddite who fell in love with Kai, a Post-Reductionist, as a child he left the estate, but now he is back as Captain Malakai Wentforth

This is an incredibly well-done book. I mean, first of all, the story is an adaptation of PERSUASION my favorite Jane Austen novel. And Peterfreund pulled it off beautifully. The world is well built and balances the story out well. It's very understated. I really loved it.

#1 LIFE AS WE KNEW IT

Premise: It's ~2005 or 2006. Miranda is a 16-year-old girl in eastern Pennsylvania. When a meteor strikes the moon, knocking it into dangerously close orbit, life starts to shift. Weather, electricity, food, and travel become increasingly more erratic, and life becomes more and more about survival.

For starters, it's not a post-apocalypse. It's an apocalypse. In the tradition of all those movies like Independence Day and 2012, except that there's nothing supernatural about it. The moon shifts, and there's a cascade of events that follows.

The book is a diary, which often is an easy way to write a book that takes place over a long period of time without stalling out, because you don't have to worry about transitions. And it works really well.

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Posted in Transportation/Automotive Post Date 04/03/2021


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