We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M Fantasy
Gritty, post-apocalyptic scenario of awakening to a reality where the environs are so terrifyingly different in an unknown maze. Some people are with those they know or have been cast there alone.
The event ten years ago that set up this world was called the Black Rapture. The biblical connotations rub me wrong, but it does set up an immediate paradigm.
The reader is dropped right into the story. Fine, strong action, but when the author starts referring to geographic locations without any sort of mapping out for the reader--it's confusing.
I had to reread the beginning after finishing the story to try and understand the premies of the Reach. The story would have benefitted greatly from a little more exposition to clarify what, where, and how it worked. More world building for comprehension would have been great. An expanded prologue would have been invaluable for this.
There's just enough left out that I wasn't certain whether or not something was an inconsistency. How does Porter or the team get back in side the Keep when Nate has to use the Reach to open it? Was it left open? The rules of the world are murky, even the limited knowledge as the people know them. This didn't make it mysterious, but confusing.
I enjoyed the characters; they are one of the strongest points of the story. You have ruthlessness, sly, loyal, power-hungry and a whole cast of interesting folks in the Keep. And the world details were intriguing if gross at times. There's even comedy to offset the tragedy. It's grim and funny. Teller excels at gallows humor since life is rough. He has some great quips that made me smile:
“It’s not like I can go online and search for ‘bubble bath so manly it’s like a poke in the eye with a sharp prick’.”
Then there's a perplexing body image obsession by the author that keeps appearing either without reason or due to lack of creativity:
Harkness and the other dead sentry were burned, black, fat-sour smoke and acrid yellow gas mingling in the air.
Like an anthill that had been poked by a fat kid.
The thought of a condom flickered through his brain, but it always seemed ridiculous to worry about syphilis after the world had ended -- like asking the devil to make sure he sanitized his pitchfork after stabbing the fat guy.
A fat Shamblesman, too-many mouths and not enough anything else -- bulled through the wall of Sentry swords.
“The fat warlord third to the left. Yes, the boy.”
CLIFFHANGER! The biggest disappoint of the book was the lack of resolution. This just ends. Things that were being sought are not acquired, what is acquired is not tested, and aside from a tenuous relationship that starts, this has nothing. Everything is still on the table with no closure, so you have to read book 2. Which by the way, is not alluded to at all. The book isn't even marked as first in a series.
Overall, a dystopian struggle that highlights the uncertainty and violence, but lacks clarity and conclusion.
"A gulp of whiskey chased the taste of dick and Reid off his tongue."