July 16, 2012

Book Review: Hollowland

"Hollowland", by Amanda Hocking, is currently free for the Kindle, making it quite possibly the best value for fans of the zombie apocalypse. Before I go any further, let me clarify something:

I really do not like zombie fiction!

I almost hate it. I never would have downloaded this title except for three things:

1. It was free
2. All of the reviews were positive
3. I was really drunk at the time

Now I'm glad I downloaded it because this title really should not be free. This book is well written enough that people seeking it out really should be paying for it. There are many Kindle books going for seven or eight dollars that do not even come close to this one in terms of entertainment value and the quality of writing.

Ms. Hocking's prose is tight, concise, and more than descriptive enough to dispel reality for a little while. The story is not exactly a suspense-filled page turner, but then, it doesn't need to be. There is a small cast of central characters and, as expected, anyone added to the central cast is eventually left behind or destroyed. One of my personal pet peeves about this book is that none of the central cast seem quite real. Instead, they are a very small step above cliche: Remy - the hard-fighting Alice wannabe, Blue - the aptly named psuedo-medic, Harlow - the dingy blonde screamer at the first sign of danger, and Lazlo - the former rockstar Larry Underwood wannabe. Despite their shallow nature, the characters are likable enough that as a reader I really wanted to see them reach their goal.

In this book their main goal is locating Remy's brother Max. At first, Max is a shadowy non-character who serves a sort of holy grail role to keep the plot moving along when any sane batch of people would have stopped and set up a defensible perimeter. Eventually we learn that Max is the only person known to have a natural immunity to the corrupted rabies virus responsible for this particular zombie apocalypse. Shortly after that, Remy is bitten by a zombie and low and behold, she too is immune.

As far as zombie stories go, the quality of this one is a small but decisive step above the run of the mill. Ms. Hocking is a skilled writer, allowing her to overcome many of the limitations and failures of most zombie writers. Her ability to move the story along, keep her characters likable, and provide descriptions which are both vivid and concise, makes this story well worth reading for fans of shuffling, mindless, undead cannibals. If you're not a zombie lover, well, it is a free title, making it a far better value than just about half of the novels you'll spend real money on. It would be far better to use your money to buy a latte and read this one for free.