Devils Unto Dust
By: Emma Berquist
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Bang Bang Review
After a virus killed her mother, Will is left to take care of her three younger siblings. Will’s father, a gambler and drunk, stole money from a zombie hunter and the hunter threatens to hurt her siblings if Will doesn’t return the money. Will hires two hunters to help her travel to find her father. Simple plot? Yes but there are a whole bunch of ways to screw it up.
Let’s begin by saying that this book is 500 freakin’ pages with a whole bunch of short chapters.
Devils began well enough with a teen girl who is left to care for her family in a zombie/virus infested world. There’s some initial tension build up but that fades pretty quickly as there’s little to no world building or nuanced characters. We don’t learn what year it is until midway through and that’s not neccessarily a problem but it would have helped to picture the world since the author didn’t. I hate when new worlds are told in first person! In some books such as Dread Nation, the world is info-dumped-no bueno. In this book, we’re barely told anything.
Another problem with 1st person POV is that if the main character dies, the story abruptly ends. At one point, Will gets sick and the author tries to create an intensity of her impeding death but we know she’s not going to die because SHE’S TELLING THE STORY! Some authors have killed the 1st person POV but it’s at the end of the story not the middle.
The writing was elementary. There were several instances in the book where Will and her fourteen year old brother argue like children and not people who have had to grow up really quickly because their parents left. “She started it.” Yes, this is a sentence uttered in this book a couple of times. There were pages of these pointless and juvenile arguing and it became comical and humor was not the intention of the author. There was no substance to any of their conversations. When characters are placed in a situation of dire circumstance, they often have strong opinions of life and love and death but none of that happens in this book.
If you are looking for a good book about the meaning of life and family and hopes and dreams with meaning and insightful dialogue and strong and special characters, this ain’t it. I don’t read a lot of zombie books but I’d recommend In the After by Demitria Lunetta or reread The 5th Wave.
Bang Bang Rating
By Justine Ireland
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
The year is 1880 and slavery has kind of ended in the traditional sense but blacks and native Americans are now forced to enter combat schools to learn how to fight zombies.
Our main character is Jane who is a sassy bi-racial zombie killing machine that takes no shits from anyone. This book has all the fixin’s, Katherine a snooty student who is passing as white, Jackson a sexy hustler/sexual harasser, a racist sheriff, and a corrupt mayor. Our trio lives and trains in Baltimore and their only future of becoming personal bodyguards for “rich white folks” is not something they are looking forward to until they are abducted and forced to fight zombies in the new hope for America-Kansas.
Dread Nation is what I like to call a book that has all bones and no meat. There’s a solid idea but it’s basically bunch of events, zombie attacks, in-between a bunch of nothing. This book is contingent on world building because this is a new world. Post Civil War America is different than what we know because of zombies so there needs to be some solid world building BUT because this book is written in first person where Jane talks to the reader, the entire world is info dumped. When you have a first person POV, your world building options are limited. I looked through my personal library of fantasy and almost all of them are third person with the exception of Kiss of Deception that relies on interludes of old texts for world building. With Dread Nation, all we get is the old south with their plantations and zombies. Then they go to the old west where there’s a brothel, a church, and a saloon, and zombies. That’s not world building; that’s all old west movies. If that’s what Ireland is going for, relying on the reader’s preconceived ideas of the old south and the old west, why did this book need to be 464 pages?
Ireland tried to do something with the Katherine Jane relationship where they start off as enemies but it ended up being nothing new or special. Jane is an okay character as far as her sass but she’s also smarter than everyone else in the room and that got annoying. A racist who constantly calls the blacks darkies does not a villain make. We expect the corrupt white sheriff to be racist but what else about him makes him evil? There were several white villains like this and it got repetitive.
This is really just a book that contain themes and storylines that we’ve all read a bunch of times. There’s nothing new here which is a shame because it’s an interesting idea.
Bang Bang Review 1/2