Review by Lyndsey McDermott
My very first impression of Life After was that it felt like a genre subject written in a literary style and even though the opening didn’t ‘hook me’, I was curious enough to see where it went. I think the author would do well to heed the words of fellow author Elliot Perlman who advises writers to use….”Crisp and unassuming language, don’t make the reader want to reach for the dictionary.” I certainly used the term ‘wordy’ and ‘wordiness’ while reading this book, so much so that I formed a top three list of sentences that have been over complicated although there were many more.
i) “The entrance appears to have suffered a similarly clogged fate.” What’s wrong with…..”The entrance was blocked?” ii) Describing a graveyard as “notorious as a place of rest.”. I’m paraphrasing there but it’s not notorious. That’s it’s normal function. iii) “Would-be fatally injured”. Can’t we just say ‘dead’?
There were also some confusing decisions by the characters and once again i’ll select a top three.
i) Jeff telling everyone not to split up before doing exactly that a page later. ii) Jeff has a black belt in some form of martial arts but doesn’t bother to help poor John Squared when he’s attacked even though they are in the same room. iii) Why did they leave Jeff alone after the very difficult decision he had to make, what sort of friend does that? Worst decision ever.
Speaking of Jeff, his description as wearing a bowler hat and carrying a cane puts me in mind of the Malcolm McDowell character from ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Unfortunately it meant that I started off disliking him and I was a good way in before this wore off. I also found the fact that Jake always wanted to try blowing someone’s head off with a shotgun very disturbing, especially when the others found it so funny.
What did I like? He’s very good at scene setting and building tension and there was the appropriate number of unpleasant and shocking death scenes. I liked the fact that the author is clearly a Star Trek fan judging by the references to the show, including Picard’s preference for Earl Grey tea. I also love this tea and often bemoan the fact that so many of my friends cannot appreciate the lovely aroma. The religious debate between Jeff and Rob was very cleverly written as was Karen’s musings on souls. Anderson drawing parallels between the group and a man who steals bread to feed his family and Jeff grabbing Julia off the field in the middle of the band performance had me laughing. I’m also stealing the line “Is it not possible I’m countering a dum question with a snarky answer?” for the next idiotic question I get asked by someone.
Editors and agents want hooking from the first page and will look for any excuse to give up and move on to the next book in the slush pile. Only my determination not to give up on a second book in a row made me persevere and if you can get passed the first 30-35% of stifling verbosity then it’s not too bad at all, but it doesn’t matter how good the rest is if you can’t get passed the start. I enjoyed it enough that I would certainly buy the sequel, if there is one, and add it to my reading list although it wouldn’t jump to the front of the queue in the way the next GRRM book will.
I usually end reviews with questions that have confused me throughout the book but weren’t explained and here is no different.
i) When are events set because reference is made to someone directing “both Bourne movies” when four would have been out as of the book’s release? ii) What the heck is a ‘kleig’? Apparently it’s binding something. iii) What is ‘testicular ascension factor’?
Fact checking and explanations would help enormously in this book. In conclusion, I think it’s worth a read.
Review by Jodie Haggerty
3 out of 5
If we could award an extra half a star I would have done so, as 3 stars feels a bit unjust but 4 too generous.
I found Life After very tough to get in to and struggled to understand the main character it even took a while to work out his age range. The guy walks round wearing a bowler hat, using a cane, which I assumed to be for decorative purposes rather than to ease an ailment, chewing on a mint infused toothpick and calling his girlfriend darling? But apparently he is 19.
He is also a touch arrogant and a bit of a know it all. In short I didn’t warm to him throughout the book
In terms of the rest of the story, the writing style is different from what I’m used to, so it took me until half way in to get used to it and start enjoying the book.
However its thorough and very descriptive, the author does a great job of helping you visualise the scenes and the experiences of the characters. The zombie action is plentiful and varied, the characters are cleverly constructed and where the authors talent really shines through is his ability to create a meaningful backstory and bring it to life without it feeling too contrived or an unnecessary filler.
I’d suggest Life After is worth a read, but if like me you aren’t used to such a literary style, bear with it because you’ll soon become familiar with the style and it becomes a story you can really get in to.