Payback – Book Review

(Warning this review contains the use of one curse word.)

Payback by Michael Botur is the second book in the Lockdownland series. This gritty thriller follows Eden Shepherd as she does her best to recover from not only being in the dreadful survival dome of Moneyland and than being imprisoned after a rough kangaroo court session. Eden is finally free. Though not really. While she was locked away, most of the world seems to have finally downloaded, the singularity happened years ago, and humanity has finally given in and accepted the virtual life. Eden wants to find her dad and settle somewhere with her family naturally, but that goes differently than planned.

Now I am going to be honest upfront. This book, and the series in general, is not for the weak of the heart. If you are offended by anything of a dark nature, skip this series entirely. Michael Botur’s work is not for you. However, if you enjoy exploring the gritty, dark, and disgusting aspects of the human soul, you are in for a real treat. This book uses a lot of foul language and has some simple rough descriptions of bodily functions, violence, and implications of sex. What one would expect from the end of humanity as a mother tries to survive it with her daughter. This book also contains a few ‘holy fuck’ moments. Why the use of a curse word here? Because honestly, that is the best way I can describe it. I won’t tell you what it is, but I had to put the book down, refill my drink and take a few moments regarding what I just read. If you have read this book, you know exactly what I am talking about.

So, with descriptions and warnings out of the way, is this book worth picking up? Well, as long as you consider what I told you above, I suggest this novel. You are in for a roller coaster of a ride. Please pick it up. You will not regret it.

Game Changers of the Apocalypse – Book Review

Game Changers of the Apocalypse by Mark Kirkbride is undoubtedly a colorful novel. Your usual zombie Apocalypse made more confusing and complicated by a break-up weeks before a wedding, a printer spitting out a story of the future, and honestly, a day that just keeps getting worse and worse, and we have the book. That seems like an oversimplified synopsis of this book, and it certainly is, but it is tough to give you more details without filling the first paragraph of this review with spoilers. Nevertheless, this was one of the more entertaining Apocalypse books I’ve read in the last few years. And there have been a lot of them in the previous few years.

The main thing that stands out to me about Game Changers of the Apocalypse is the characters. Greg and Polly, the main characters, are so messed up and stuck in their heads that you can only think of them as real people. Fictional characters are very rarely this flawed. At the start of the book, I will admit I found Polly insanely annoying. However, as the story progresses, it starts to make sense. Polly and Greg seem so emotionally at odds that it’s a wonder they managed to stick together long enough to get engaged. But how many times have we thought that of real couples?

Like with most fiction stories, this one requires a certain level of suspension of belief to enjoy. However, even if you do not believe that there is some omnipotent being that could end the world and write about it, you can certainly feel it in this novel. It is evident from the start that someone watches the main characters throughout the ordeal, challenging their every step and rewriting when they think they have escaped. An odd concept for an end-of-the-world story but an exciting and original idea.

Pick up Game Changers of the Apocalypse for a zombie game-changing read.

Gathering of the Four – Book Review

Gathering of the Four by A.E. Bennet is book one of the Serrulata Saga, not counting the prequel Yours and Mine that covers how a couple of characters met. Gathering of the Four follows Leora of Mae, Roland Shallowbrook, Aurora Verte, and Leopold as they struggle to deal with being outcasts in The Realm and try to survive long enough to bring justice to a cruel and powerful sovereign. While the four come from very different living situations, they must work together and cope with the secrets that tie some closer than one would expect. The book is filled with exciting turns, making it difficult to put it down.

The first thing I want to address about Gathering of the Four is that it does contain scenes of abuse and sexual situations. So if you are uncomfortable with either of these, this is probably not the sort of book for you. The scenes of abuse and implied abuse explain the situations characters are in or have lived through. As for the sexual problems, they are delightfully steamy but not exceptionally detailed. However, the apparent affection between the feelings involved makes reading them enjoyable. These situations are few and far between, but they are common enough to make a note of.

Another thing I want to discuss is world-building. When you first pick up Gathering of the Four, you might think this is another fantasy series, and it certainly does have fantasy aspects. However, as I read, I was delighted to find out that there are some problematic dystopian situations, and this book does, in fact, take place on our very own Earth. I will not go into further details on the subject in order not to ruin any twists in the book, but the world that A.E. Bennett has created is one of the most exciting I have read about in some time.

I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Mandate: Thirteen – Book Review

Mandate: Thirteen by Joseph J. Dowling is an exciting dystopian novel. Like many of these books, this one centers around the dropping fertility rates of the human race. An ultra-conservative group has control of England, and due to the rapidly dropping rates, they released a new law, all females thirteen years and older must be checked for hormones and the ability to carry children. When Micheal Randell’s daughter Hope is marked as fertile, he goes as far as he can to keep her safe.

When I first saw the offer to review this book, I thought, oh boy, another one of these. Female infertility blame dystopian future has been done a lot. However, Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is well done. While much of the focus is on female infertility, everything from birthing schools to baby farmers, there are also several instances when it is stated that males are also to blame. I found this to be a satisfying change to an often worn-out concept. Another pleasing difference in this book compared to many of its kin of a similar genre is that the main characters are father and daughter. So instead of being given a single view from a female perspective, we are also given the additional complications of a strained father-daughter relationship. Anyone who has et sort n a teenager can recall how complicated parental relationships can be.

While I touched on it briefly above, I will go into more detail here. The father-daughter relationship between Micheal and Hope is realistic, in all its ups and downs and half-thought-out comments. No man can entirely comprehend what a young teenage girl is thinking, and no young adolescent girl has any idea what a middle-aged man is thinking. This leads to several complications throughout the story that feel as though they could have been witnessed in real life.

So the real question is, is Mandate: Thirteen worth picking up? Yes. Refrain from letting the similar-sounding story fool you. Joseph J. Dowling’s take on this popular genre is a breath of fresh air.

Dusk Upon Elysium – Book Review

Dusk Upon Elysium follows Geoff as he does his best to cope in a world that has been overcome by the dreadful Nergal virus, a terrible disease said to have infected even plants and animals. Locked away inside small enclosed homes with only government-distributed work and food to keep them busy, the people of the world trudge along assuming what they are told by the news outlets is true. There is hope, however. A virtual reality program called Paradiso allows people to escape their troubles and reality into the paradise they always wished they could have had before their lives were torn apart by disease and questionable government tactics. nothing bad could come from this situation. What could happen here?

I found Dusk Upon Elysium to be a really exciting book one that I found managed to skirt the line of being just similar enough to our post-COVID reality without being too close for comfort. That nearness in the story, while done in many a dystopian novel, particularly the ones written in the last few years, is particularly well done by Tamel Wino in this novel. I found the slight hint of biological horror and the ideas of what could be happening outside of the assumed safe homes of the people of the world intriguing. Even more so I found the mental tribulations of the people of the story even more exciting. Geoff and other characters are thrown through a variety of mental turmoil that is both relatable and traumatizing. 

Reviewed for Reader’s Favorite

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