Saturday, July 13, 2013

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: 'Released' gives a new take on dystopian fiction

Zombie and monster fiction really is the rage right now – no pun intended.

Everyone has a zombie or dystopian story that they’re ready to write and share.

The problem is, a lot of these stories are essentially the exact same thing. That’s why ‘Released,’ by Megan Duncan, is actually a breath of fresh air.

The crux of the story is that 17-year-old Abby Phillips has hit the road with her brother, Carter, and his best friend, Max, after their parents are killed in a demon apocalypse.

As a reader, you’re essentially thrust into the world and expected to figure out a lot of things on your own – which I like – but you’re also left in the dark on some things that I think are important. For example, since the book starts after the apocalypse has been going on for a long period of time, you’re left to wonder how things started and why these things are happening. That’s fine, I don’t need answers right away, but the fact that it’s barely addressed is a little jarring.

This is written at a young adult level -- so it’s pretty straight forward. I don’t think a story like this needs to be anything else, though.

Once on the road, the trio are heading to a military base where they hope people are holed up together for protection, the teenagers save another girl trapped in a van. Taya joins the group and immediately develops a fatal attraction rush on Carter (even though her mom just died).

That’s one of the things about the book that genuinely bothered me. There was no buildup – to anything really. She's just instantly in love with him and acting like a crazy person.

‘Released’ is one of those books that really would have benefited from another hundred pages. Every single thing that happens in the book feels like it’s being rushed. The author never has a chance to build a scene -- mostly because she’s already rushing through it.

In other words, the parts of the book are better than the sum.

There is some interesting stuff here – but it’s disjointed – and the dialogue sometimes feels really forced. That’s probably because the narrative is forced to fit into this teeny little box – when it needs a little room to grow.

Still, there are moments of greatness in the book. They’re just not explored enough.

Also, as a side note, about two-thirds of the way through the book the story veers into ’28 Days Later’ land and it feels really out of place. I have no problem with the teens meeting different types of people, but the pacing in this section of the book is so quick the reader already feels the “badness” of these people being beaten over their heads before the introductions are even done.

This is an indie, and there are some typos and grammar mistakes – but they’re really pretty minor and shouldn’t drag the reader out of the narrative.

I applaud the author for creating this new world – let’s hope she does something great with it in the sequel. Please, just give the characters more time and don't rush through things and you'll be fine.

‘Released’ is currently free on Kindle and available for $8.09 in paperback. (Note: These prices may change).


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