Hollowland by Amanda Hocking (The Hollows #1)
Released: October 2010
Publisher: Self Published
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Synopsis: “This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.” Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.
I had to get through the first couple of chapters before I could decide if Hollowland was a book worth reading. On one had, I was already intrigued by the beginning of the storyline. Apocalypse. Zombies. Butt-kicking female main character. How could I resist? On the other hand, I found myself disappointed by the prose that seemed rough around the edges. It’s not the typos that bothered me. I can look past that considering the book was self-published, and I don’t think Hocking had the opportunity to have professional editors revise her work. And it’s not like the errors were glaring. Honestly, I didn’t even notice most, and the ones I did notice didn’t take me out of the story. But, her writing did seem inconsistent. Some scenes were vivid, and I could see what was going on inside my head as though it were a movie. Other scenes were lackluster or they jumped around too much, and I found myself backpedaling so I could understand what was going on. However, the further I got into the story, the more difficult it became to put the book down. What kept my attention was Hocking’s perfect pacing and her ability to create suspenseful and tense situations.
There is never a dull moment in this book especially since Hocking’s zombies are not your standard zombie. They do not schlep around the wasteland in hopes of accidentally stumbling upon a fresh brain to munch on. Instead, these zombies are more advanced, more brutal, and more organized, and this makes them all the more terrifying. When Hocking writes her human vs. zombie scenes, she doesn’t shy away. Hollowland is a little more gory compared to other young adult zombie books. There is zombie blood splatter and the occasional zombie head crushing, but it doesn’t really cross over into a realm that would be more appropriate for adults. Battling zombies throughout a book can become redundant, but Remy (the main character) and crew found themselves in different predicaments each time, which made the book exciting. The first time I found myself really on edge though was not when Remy was mowing down zombies; it was when she and her companions found themselves among a potentially dangerous cult of very much alive and healthy humans. The situation was believable and chilling, and it showed that there may actually be worse things out there than the infected.
While I found the plot line addictive, I couldn’t jump on board with the characters. Their development was kind of weak. Remy kicks butt (which is really awesome), but she’s so devoid of emotion. She spends her entire journey convincing the reader that she has the emotional range of a rock, so when she tries to express her feelings at the end of the book it comes across as unbelievable. Then there is Blue, who I thought would have a bigger role in the apocalypse simply because he is a medic, he’s rational, and he knows how to take down zombies alongside Remy. But, he takes the backseat in most scenes which makes me wonder if Hocking only created him to make sense of the events at the end of the book. Harlow is the only character that gives the reader a good, consistent sense of who she is. She starts off as an obnoxious brat, but over time her positive attitude and childlike outlook on the post-apocalyptic world (as well as her zombie stomping combat boots) grew on me.
The characters have a tendency to be one-dimensional, but Hollowland‘s nicely paced plot, suspenseful moments, and surprise ending make it a book worth reading. I just learned that Hollowland, which I thought was a stand-alone novel, is the first book in a series. Part of me is bummed because I thought this book had a great ending that allowed the reader’s imagination wonder about the state of the post-apocalyptic world. Does it survive and flourish? Does it slowly die out? The other part of me is kind of excited. Hocking really does know how to write a good zombie book!