Book Review: End Dayz

review-cover-end dayzTitle: End Dayz [The Hitchhiker Strain 0.5]

Author: Kellie Sheridan

Genre: Horror (Zombies), Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, Short Story

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s month after the dead first began to walk. The miracle vaccine that was supposed to save us all has failed.

Now, four teens fight to stay alive as a stronger, smarter breed of zombie begins to appear, threatening to end humanity for good.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about End Dayz by Kellie Sheridan. I came upon this book as part of a larger series on NetGalley—in fact, the Hitchhiker Strain series in its entirety. Going into it, all I knew was that it was a three-book set. It wasn’t until I started reading End Dayz that I discovered that it wasn’t so much the first book in the series, as a prequel set of letters and diary entries. I wasn’t aware that it was a set of four short stories to begin with, so take that into context as you read this review. I kept waiting for the actual story to begin, and instead I was reading abandoned letters and diary entries from a bunch of kids trying to survive the apocalypse. The narrative I was expecting never came, and the longer the letters went on, the more I was starting to think that this “prologue” was going on way too long.

That’s okay though. To be honest, the letters were really interesting. It was entertaining to see how the different teens dealt with the horrors of a zombie apocalypse and how they conveyed those horrors to the reader. It managed to keep my interest despite being about something entirely different than I expected, and I would have given it five stars… except, the letters and diary entries weren’t written like letters and diary entries. The entire time I was reading I kept thinking to myself, “No one writes letters like this.” The amount of detail and blow-by-blow accounts of zombie battles that the author put in weren’t true to the format of letters. I can’t think of a single person who would write their dad a letter that gives a blow-by-blow account of what a person was thinking, feeling, and what actions they took while some survivor tries to kidnap her. It just isn’t going to happen. That doesn’t make it any less interesting… but it didn’t stick to the format in which it was meant to be written. It was a problem for me.

Does that mean I didn’t like it? No. I liked it tremendously—even more so once I started reading the actual first book Mortality and realized that the letters tied into the greater story. Had this series of four short stories been about separate, random survivors, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. Overall, I gave this four stars. The stories are good, but it’s hard for me to give them full credit when they didn’t stick to the format in which they were presented. Had they actually sounded like letters and diary entries I probably would have liked them more. Still, it was a good read, and if you plan on reading further into the series, I’d recommend you have a go at End Dayz first. It helps to bring some context to what’s going on as Mortality starts.

Book Review: Impulse Control [Talent Chronicles 0.5]

 

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Title: Impulse Control [Talent Chronicles 0.5]

Author: Susan Bischoff

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult, Short Story

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

In the world of the Talent Chronicles, kids born with supernatural powers are taken from their families and forced into government research facilities called State Schools. At one such school, a dangerous experiment has killed two young inmates and threatens others. Ethan, a shape-shifter, is reluctantly recruited by his best friend Karen, a telepath, and Elle, the unique Talent he has a crush on, to thwart the faculty’s plans. If they’re caught they face Detention, and Detention at a State School has a whole different meaning.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was extremely hesitant jumping into this novella. For those of you who regularly read my reviews, you’ll know that I greatly dislike short fiction. I like to sink myself into a story for several hours at a time and not come up for air, so shorter novellas often leave me frustrated. I find them to be rushed most of the time. This was no exception.

Being a YA fiction short story, Impulse Control was written in a very straight-forward, plain narrative that made it easy to sink into. Unfortunately, it also read a little below my usual grade level. To be honest, it felt like I was reading a middle-grade story that just happened to have YA characters. The elements of the story were a little too dramatic to be believable and the characters seemed to skim through outrageously dangerous situations with little consequence. It was hard to believe that the constant danger I was being forewarned about was as dangerous as the author kept telling me when no one seemed to get hurt or even came close to being caught.

The story was riddled with what I like to consider storytelling potholes. The children in the story were being held in a facility where their every daily tasks were monitored and the penalty for acting out was a quick ticket to a lab where the kids knew they would be experimented on and possibly even killed. However, when the children decided to sneak around the facility it was conspicuously void of guards, CCTV’s, or any sort of alarm system. The few obstacles they had to get through (like keypads) were easy to circumnavigate (despite the fact that the security in this place should have been prepared for supernatural teens)… it just wasn’t believable.

At one point, the kids are even attacked, and then joined by another teen who had shown previously that he was at least somewhat evil, but as soon as he joined the team in trying to shut the facility down, he became friendly and no one seemed to have a problem with him. It was frustrating to see the author present information (like the kid being evil, or the facility being dangerous) only to have the narrative then tell us that it wasn’t true.

The one big thumbs up for this story was the plot itself. It was intriguing. Here are these supernatural power-wielding kids stuck in a secret government facility being trained to become operatives (against their will), paired up with a darker, more sinister side where the kids lives are very much in danger. It should have been a very compelling read, and it would have been had the author stuck to their guns and made the narrative consistent.

Overall it was an okay read. It wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t awful either. I’d really like to see this written out into a full length story, or at the very least cleaned up and made consistent, but it was interesting, and I’m glad I read it. If you like middle-grade or YA fiction, you might like this. Adults may have a hard time getting through it because of the narrative potholes, but it’d make a cute afternoon read.