Tribes – Mia Frances

Post-apocalyptic Horror – Not Romance

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Remember “The Day After”, the 1983 movie about the immediate aftermath of a nuclear war? It was a horrifically real depiction meant to raise consciousness and help make sure it never became reality. It is not a feel-good movie and certainly not a romance. TRIBES is along those lines but adds rape and much more human killing human. At least “The Day After” showed some people being compassionate, working together, and helping each other. These are very rare in TRIBES.

Alex is taking her two sisters and their seven kids to her camp in the Adirondacks when a nuclear war starts. Alex and the kids are the only decent human beings we see for most of the book. Wolf, the “hero”, is not a decent person! At no point did I want them to be together.

Alex is a strong woman, smart, level-headed, and kind. Being a hiking and nature enthusiast, she has just enough skills to keep them alive at the start. Intelligence and perseverance allow her to improve these skills and their situation. I liked all the survival information and descriptions of nature, finding them both entertaining and informative. Alex eventually learns to shoot, track, and hunt. The descriptions of her thought processes when raiding potentially abandoned buildings were great. If there weren’t other people still in the world, Alex would have easily kept herself and the kids alive and even thrived.

But they are not alone, far from it! They were on the road when they got warning of an imminent strike. None of the locals would give them shelter, but at least they didn’t kill them. I think those locals died anyway because soon the only people left in the world were murderers and rapists. They killed everyone from babies to old people. It is a starkly pessimistic apocalypse. I love post-apocalyptic fiction, especially without zombies, and this is the worst vision of what humanity could be that I’ve read.

Though this novel contains two people who get together and have sex, it doesn’t meet my definition of a romance. I found it categorized at Amazon under “Science Fiction Romance”, so I was severely disappointed. There were no reviews anywhere to correct my expectations, which is why I felt especially compelled to write this review. My post-apocalyptic fiction doesn’t need romance, but it does when categorized as such.

If you are looking for a “romance” with good feels, hot sex scenes, a hopeful feeling, and a leading man with good qualities, steer clear of this!

It is also categorized under “Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction” and “Dystopian Science Fiction” which fit. I would also put it in “Horror”.

It is written in close 3rd, mostly from Alex’s POV. But there is frequent head-hopping within a chapter, mostly short dips into the children and Wolf. I don’t like head-hopping and find it disorienting.

Very long paragraphs and character background loaded at the front failed to grab me, but I kept going, expecting something to happen soon. It did, but the long paragraph style continued throughout, and I’m just not a fan. It also bothered me that time passed between these long paragraphs with no indication, leaving me to realize it later. At least a double carriage return would have been nice.

I feel like the book would have been better if it started with Alex noticing the people missing, the radio notification, and the women’s reactions. Their reactions would tell me what I needed to know about them. I don’t need all the background loaded into the front, and the book would start with a whoosh. It took so long for the actual bombs to be revealed that I was wondering if the whole thing wasn’t a horrific hoax or mistake. When we get inside Wolf’s head, we again get a lot of backstory loaded in. I’d have preferred this come out in conversation or something. There really isn’t much on screen dialogue between Alex and Wolf, no “get to know you” conversations or discussions about how Wolf is treating Alex or the kids or how Alex wants them treated.

There are some typos, missing periods and quotation marks, and a few unnecessary dialogue tags. Some of the book, within and outside of dialogue, is in bold, which I’ve never seen before. It clearly indicated emphasis. It didn’t really bother me but felt weird.

I just couldn’t enjoy this either a romance or a non-romance. I didn’t find the sex scenes hot and never rooted for the couple together, but I didn’t get the revenge killing I wanted either when I had moved to looking at this as a horror novel. I don’t wish I could give it no stars though. It deserves the one star for the third paragraph I wrote here.

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