Allison Hewitt is Trapped

Y’know, I think people who don’t read zombie fiction don’t realize the wealth of variety there is in this subgenre. Some zombie books like Rot & Ruin have a poetic grace, some such as the Forest of Hands and Teeth are well beyond being about zombies, and Allison Hewitt is Trapped is just snarkily funny, when it’s not being rather profound. Maybe I am biased, after all I was predisposed to like this one as Allison’s story is told through her blog, a blog she kept while trying to survive a zombie apocalypse, so she is a girl after my own heart. Sometimes I have felt like I am just trying to survive my life, and it’s been a challenge to get a post up every week, but it’s important to me in what has been a trying time in my life. Therefore, I greatly respect that Allison, badass that she is, manages to get blog posts up in between killing zombies.

OK, Allison Hewitt is not a high school teen, but she is a college student, so that’s close enough for me to write about the book Allison Hewitt is Trapped on this YA blog. Allison is paying for her studies by working at a bookstore when the zombie apocalypse happens. Allision, her boss, two assistant managers, and a couple of customers take refuge in the breakroom as chaos ensues. Forget the zombies, just being stuck living night and day with people you work with can already be horrifying. It reminds me of when I read Sartre’s No Exit in high school, hell is other people a lot of the time.

Eventually the group start to run out of food and Allison and Ted, an Asian chem student, volunteer to venture out into the store in search of vittles and Allison quickly learns to be an expert with the emergency axe she found as she dispatches the undead. Food is not the only problem the group has, soon sanitation issues ensue. I have to admit that when I read these books, or watch this type of movie, I am always secretly wondering how some of these basic needs are handled, so while it’s not my favorite topic, I applauded an author for finally addressing what we are all wondering.

Although Allison is the den mother of the group, she is outvoted by the rest who decide it would be best to relocate to the apartments above the bookstore for more comfort. Although initially more comfortable, the move has consequences, which Allison chronicles on her blog for a growing readership of survivors spread out across the country. All of us bloggers could wish that what we write has such an impact! Her words are what give others hope and the spirit to survive another day. When Allison’s mother responds to one of her blog posts that she is going to join her daughter as she and some neighbors are running out of food, Allison rejoices. However, events transpire that cause Allison and her little group to leave the apartments and head to the source of some radio broadcasts that she has been listening to at night.   The voice that keeps her company in the dark is one that will become a meaningful part of her journey along with her search for her mother.

Allison’s journey is emotional, spiritual and physical and she encounters some memorable characters who leave the kind of big impression in a short time that happen under situations of distress. I don’t want to describe more details as I hope readers will choose to experience this book for themselves.   If an apocalyptic event were to happen, how many of you writers and bloggers would try to do what Allison does?

                                                                                                                                                        

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The Selection

The Selection by Kiera Cass has a premise that’s part, The Bachelor, part Wool, and part Sever and part Cinderella. America Singer is a Level 5 and while she loves her artist family, they struggle to support themselves. Her life would be much easier if she was a Level 2 or 3, as they have wealth and status. Still, she can’t complain as her boyfriend, Aspen, is a Level 6 which means the servant class. Aspen gives up his own food to make sure his sisters and mothers have something to eat. America doesn’t much care that he is a lower caste than her, even though her life would be even harder, but her mother would. America’s mom has ambitions for her beautiful and musically talented daughter, so America has kept her relationship hidden for two years.

Then a letter arrives about the Selection that changes everything. The U.S. is now the nation of Illyea. When the country was not able to pay its debt to China, it went to war first with China and then later Russia, until a man named Gregory Illyea was able to pull the nation back together and thus the country was renamed for him. The nation is ruled by the royal family, his descendants, and Prince Maxon must find a bride. The Selection is a matchmaking process where a lottery is first held to pick girls from each province, despite their caste anyone could be the next Princess. America has no intention of filling out the forms despite the pressure from her mother, until Aspen tells her she deserves a better life than what she will have with him and wants her to enter so he will never need to have doubts about whether he held her back. America’s mom bribes her by saying she can keep half of all the money they make performing music, which America sees as a way to start saving to marry Aspen.

Before the lottery Aspen breaks up with America as he says he can’t bear to see her hungry to going without, then America is selected in the lottery. All of the girls selected receive payments to their families and between the extra money and wanting to get away from her broken heart, America decides she will try to play the game to stay away from home as long as she can. Life in the palace isn’t easy though, the competition among the girls can be brutal, and the royal family is vulnerable to terrorist attacks on the palace, but the biggest danger is the Prince himself as slowly America forms a bond with him. She tells him about the love she left at home and admits she is only there for the food and the money, but makes a pact to be his friend and help him with the Selection by coaching him about the other girls, etc.

It seemed like a good plan until the friendship veers into something else, just at the same time that Aspen shows up at the Palace in his new job as a guard.

I actually don’t want The Bachelor, so I was surprised that I liked this book. I found the caste system to be interesting and a bit reminiscent of the Levels in Wool. The contest aspect of the Selection, complete with the televised interviews even has shades of The Hunger Games. However, the book most reminded me of the Chemical Garden series in the way that the main character begins to feel something toward the man who keeps her in a gilded cage.

Burn

Burn, the final book in Julianna Baggott’s trilogy ended with a bang not a whimper. This is the last book in what is easily one of the most disturbing YA apocalyptic series I have ever read.  When we think about disasters, I think we usually think about large numbers of people dying, disturbing, or the conditions survivors live under, also disturbing, but the image of people fused together in a blast and then living is just one you cannot forget.

El Capitan and Helmud have accompanied Pressia to the UK and things are a little awkward after his declaration of love to her.  Pressia is distracted by the action she took to save Bradwell, creating a wall between them, and the strange things she notices at Newgrange, babies who look alike and attacks on the settlement by an enemy too disturbing to reveal here.  During her visit, Pressia is given possession of something that will change the fate of the Dome dwellers and the Wretches and causes controversy within her own band of friends and family.

In the meantime, Pressia’s half brother Partridge, a Pure, is dealing with his own issues after the transfer of power to him after his father’s death.  Both he, and us readers, were perhaps a bit naïve to think that now that Willux is gone, everything will be rosy.  Partridge soon realizes that a life with the mother of his child may not be guaranteed and that the mantle of power does not rest easily on his shoulders.  Despite his loathing for the things his father did, he finds himself on a path that is too close for comfort to his father’s legacy.

The story is told in alternating narratives expressing the different points of view of the main characters which serves to illustrate how people can look at the same situation, but see it very differently.  This book also demonstrates how even when you have the best of intentions, you can make bad choices.

Most of the time I am not a fan of turning books into films, but in the case of this series I admit to being a little excited by the idea, as the special effects would probably be fantastic.