So I was sitting there at my desk yesterday and the weirdest thing happened. I fell in love with another book. I’m going to start doing novella and short story reviews and this is the first. So strap in, pull up a chair, and let me tell you a story about a story.
It started so simply. I thought I was going to be reading a zombie story, and wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. But it’s a short read (which is exactly what I needed after a long morning, something small enough to digest in a couple of hours and satisfying) and only 99 cents on Amazon. I purchased it and pushed it to the side for a minute. It’s trash day today and I had to clear some more clutter out of the house before it goes up for rent.
I decided to take a peek inside the cover, so I opened my kindle reader and had a look. The story starts off with an unnerving calm. It’s obvious that this future apocalyptic world is anything but peaceful, but for the moment the characters seemed content with their situation. Secure within the walls and gates surrounding the city, and nobody outside after dark. I could fall into a rhythm with that. When I’m at my property I don’t go wondering about after dark, as things are quieter by the campfire. Having a wall between yourself and the “wilds” is always a plus.
The love interest appears, a little worse for the wear, and the MC’s love for her shows through ever so subtly, but it’s still obvious. Cook showcases a very comfortable relationship that has been on for a while, but these two have a problem. A big one, which comes rolling into town as they are hammering out their exit strategy. It doesn’t stop there though, as the one thing which makes these two special appears to be taunting them with danger from another angle.
I really wasn’t sure of the main characters would make it out of the book alive. I tossed the idea back and forth, but couldn’t decide whether the twist would go this way or that. Which characters would get shot? Are there even any bullets left in that guy’s pocket? Overall, the pacing and the plot kept me trudging along. Instead of only reading the first section, Cook kept me under his spell through each narrated passage, and even when I broke for a cigarette, I didn’t finish it. Three puffs, snuff it out, and back to the story. I used my e-cig to hold me over until the end.
Now, no book is perfect, but any parts that didn’t agree with me were few and far between. One thing that struck me was the writing. It’s absolutely beautiful, but you will find a typo or two if you are looking. They were easy enough to ignore. I also thought that in a couple places the language exceeded the plot a little bit. Here we are, in a futuristic world where civilization has been degraded for a while, and a younger MC is narrated with a few words I’m sure aren’t in his vernacular. But the story is 3rd person so I suppose it’s acceptable, more than acceptable considering that the rest of the prose is absolutely lovely.
The pacing was perfect and regular as my heart beat, drumming up and slacking off at the appropriate times. The world was intricately created without beating the reader over the head with the history every year since the apocalypse took place. The characters are vivid and real, and the settings are believable.
One thing I do tend to chew on is people still scavenging or relying on supply drops years after everything goes to crap, but in this story, the mechanisms of their survival work without being over the top, and I couldn’t spot any obvious holes in the world.
Overall, I gave this story a 5/5 on Amazon, and I stick by that. A rough guess at the word-count put it somewhere between 6-10,000 words, and I finished it in a couple hours. It’s marked as a longish short story on Amazon, but that really doesn’t do it justice. It’s a solid novelette, and the story has enough depth to distinguish it from the short story category. It could even be called a short novella. That’s all subjective of course, but there was enough plot woven together to keep the reader interested from the first paragraph to the final word. It probably won’t be long till I read more from G. Allen Cook. Find it here on Amazon (the cover at the top should be click-able as well).
I feel I should add that I don’t get paid for reviews or prompted to write them. My views are honest and my own opinion. If you have a short work (something in the novella category or shorter) and want me to look at it, leave a comment, tweet me, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the title or a link. I don’t review everything and much will depend on my time available and if I like the synopses. If I love your story I’m going to say I love it, if it doesn’t agree with me then I’ll say that too.