Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Solstice by Donna Burgess

Solstice: A Novel of the Zombie Apocalypse
Donna Burgess
Release date: May 7th 2012
by E-Volve Books

On the eve of winter Solstice, a massive flash envelopes the Earth and then there is nothing. The sun no longer shines and civilization is plunged into unending darkness. Those exposed to the mysterious flash have changed—they have become bloodthirsty, cunning, and determined to devour anyone who is not infected. They are Ragers.

In Sweden, a group of uneasy travelers hears a broken broadcast. There is hope. Something called Sanctuary waits, but it is thousands of miles away, somewhere on the shores of the British Isles.

Meanwhile, in a London supermarket, a high school English teacher from the States finds himself stranded along with a handful of students on a senior trip. Outside, hoards of hungry Ragers await, ready to tear them limb from limb. Their only hope is to find Sanctuary.

Solstice is a tale of hope, terror, survival, and finding love at the end of the World.
*A copy was provided by Bewitching Book Tours for review purposes*

If it wasn't for the flaws in logic, this could've been a really great book. It's got intense scenes, a steady pace, and plenty of characters to keep you captivated, but it's hard to forget that nagging voice in your mind that tells you it doesn't make sense. Pushing that voice in a corner, I found I was able to enjoy the chilling story nonetheless.

Sure, talking zombies have been done in novels like Dearly, Departed and it works, but that's because we get a scientific explanation. Something has been done to give them a functioning brain in their undead state. It's much harder to suspend disbelief when we have a present day zombie apocalypse caused by a mysterious flash/storm that leaves the world filled with flesh eating monsters who walk around with would-be fatal injuries that don't seem to phase them. Yet, they speak. They speak with intelligence, luring and mocking its prey. One even runs away out of compassion or remorse for humans. At first I was expecting an explanation such as it being a freaky infection where they're actually still alive, turned into savage cannibals. But as the book moves along, we get more and more confirmation that these creatures are truly undead, thus should not have any brain function. It does not compute! Therefore, I suggest you to throw logic out the window, because the rest is actually pretty engrossing.

One thing that Solstice does not lack is in its characters. We get bombarded with quite a few character arcs to follow. I was a bit overwhelmed at first and it did take me a while to recall who was who when we switched to another POV. We eventually get to a point where a few of these people band together to give us only two POVs which is more manageable in a story so fast paced, leaving character building as a secondary thought - at least at first. So there we go, two POVs; two mismatched families who are fighting to survive this apocalypse. In a way we get two different stories inside the same world. I really enjoyed this style of telling; it's unnerving, with regular chapter cliffhangers that get you flying through to get back to where you left off, without really wanting to leave the story arc you're currently on. It's a great way to keep the reader enraptured. Between the two, I did favor the perspective with Tomas' family as I found the characters more compelling. I felt I cared more about their fate than I did the ones in Stu's story - which I thought was a bit all over the place, leaving me disjointed every time we got back to it.

With such a big cast, the plot is not incredibly character driven. I never felt truly invested in the characters, at least not until the last quarter where it becomes a bit more emotional. The fast pace makes up for this, though, with its constant feeling of doom in the air. This is also helped by the lack of sunlight, leading us into a very spine-chilling, gloomy setting. I'm not sure if the author plans on writing a sequel. If not the ending is bit disappointing as I feel nothing was really resolved or explained; it's all very unsettling. Overall as an author's first novel and as a rabid zombie fan, I did enjoy it. Yes it has flaws, but there's more than enough action and turbulence to keep you on your toes.

3 Hot Espressos

Donna Burgess lives with her husband, daughter, son, many cats and one goofy Golden Retriever in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. When she is not writing, she can be found on her longboard, behind a good book or on the soccer field. She is the president of E-Volve Books. She holds a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Journalism and is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing.

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