Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: The Dying Times (The Survivor Chronicles) by Brian Kittrell

Book Review: The Dying Times (The Survivor Chronicles) by Brian Kittrell

I've been reading a lot of books on Kindle that are self published (and either low-cost or free) and I’ve had quite a few good reads. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. Post apocalyptic horror involving survivors and zombies is right up my alley, but this book is a real roadblock for my willingness to read self published work. This one is literally so bad, I didn't even read the last tenth of it. I just didn't care. 

From The Dying Times: Nadene's Story is the first book in a planned series of survival horror set in a post-apocalyptic world filled with flesh-eating undead zombies. It tells the story from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl who has been thrown from an uncertain world of divorce and dealing with the stresses of a single parent family to a world overtaken by a viral disaster which turns normal people into depraved creatures hellbent on destruction.

Yes, folks, there’s even a typo in the description. (Hellbent = hell-bent.) 

We're given a clue as to how bad this book might be when Mr. Kittrell gives us a "word from the publisher" (himself) followed by a "word from the author."

In my opinion, the major flaw of this book with regards to the description is that this story is not told from Nadene’s point of view. If it had been, it would have been at least mildly entertaining.

There are too many things in this book that make no sense.

For instance: after the mother, Pamela, goes inside convenience store and authorizes the gas pump to fill her car, she comes outside (though we are never told she came outside) and says (well after the car’s gas tank is topped off by another character) “We’re taking my car, then?”  No, dumbass, you just turned on the pump to fill your car up with gas so you could take a different car! 

Here’s another one: They climbed the ladder up to the loft. Thankfully, the cabins came equipped with mattresses and bed clothes. Susan boiled some water and made tea, which she poured into two cups for them to take upstairs. Ok. So they go upstairs, but somehow they get back downstairs so Susan can boil tea for them to take back upstairs. Normally I wouldn’t make a stink out of this, but this book is loaded with these errors.

Another thing that is severely annoying is word repetition. John did this. John did that. Then John did some other thing. I understand the need to use names when in situations with more than one character, but this kind of overkill makes the story choppy, wordy and very easy to skim.

The dialogue usually sounds forced, and it seems as if all of the characters speak with the same voice. There is very little characterization beyond age and gender. After reading most of the book, I still feel as if I do not know the characters beyond what any stranger could glean from them at face value. Emotion doesn't come across well here and even the writer’s use of sarcasm falls short of its mark ninety-nine percent of the time (he usually has to tell us that the character is employing sarcasm). 

Devices convenient to the plot abound, as well. Over the course of the book, the main character becomes psychic, just in time to save the rag tag group from certain disaster. When it becomes time for the group to decide on a survival plan, one of them suddenly mentions that he can pilot a helicopter. And another character knows just where one is! Awesome!

I won’t even go into the tragically stupid things that some of these characters do. Suspension of disbelief is important in any work of fiction, but people as stupid as these characters would have fallen victim to some Darwin Award level catastrophe long before the zombie apocalypse. 

Though the idea for this book is a good one, the writer seems completely oblivious to his readers needs. Things like bad sentence structure, barely-there character development and convenient plot devices distract the reader from the story itself and the flaws show serious cracks in the writer’s talent and credibility.

On a scale of zero to five with five being the best, I am sad to say that this book gets ZERO STARS. I'm truly sorry, but this book is awful. By the time I quit reading the book, I didn't even care whether the characters lived or died. I just wanted the book to be over. 

EDIT: Okay, so I finished the damned book. Still don't care. 

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