I love The Walking Dead and Z Nation TV
series, but I generally prefer post-apocalyptic novels without zombies. That
said, I did enjoy this. It is a post-apocalyptic ménage romance with zombies.
Ali has been holing up in an attic since the zombie
apocalypse started. When she runs out of food, she goes foraging in empty
houses. There she finds Dan and points her shotgun at him.
This novel started out with a whoosh instead of a lot of
backstory, which I enjoyed very much. The action kept on going, with the
zombies and other humans and in the bedroom. It contains several graphic sex
scenes, M/F and M/F/M, because along the way, they meet Finn. I loved the
characters in this, especially Dan, who is very funny. This novel made me laugh
out loud a few times. I liked that they are in their 30s and 40s. I also loved
that Ali is a strong woman. She helps herself, fighting back instead of waiting
to be saved. She’s no annoying damsel in distress!
It is set in Australia, but if it wasn’t explicitly
stated, I wouldn’t have known. There is no dialect speech, not a lot of “mate”s
and such. Just a little flavor thrown in.
Everything is totally consensual. There is no cheating or
OW/OM drama. It contains foul language. There is lots of sex and quite a bit of
violence. For a zombie story, I wouldn’t say it was gory.
I thought it was well written with good pacing. I caught
only 6 outright errors, which is fantastic. There are many comma splices (sentences
with two independent clauses joined with a comma but not a conjunction). It
happened so often that I have accepted this as style. I’m not a fan of the
style, but that’s probably because my brain keeps yelling, “Error!” while I’m
trying to enjoy the story. I do think it may add to the fast pacing.
If you like ménage and zombies, I recommend it. I plan on reading the next in the series, Skin. This is a standalone novel but part of a series, with different characters in each book.
I’m combing the two reviews for these together here because they comprise one total book. Saltlands picked up exactly where Population left off. It’s like someone just tore the book in two along it’s spine, ala Bed Knobs and Broomsticks!
I liked Saltlands better, but that makes sense. Population is slow at the start because of necessary world building. Taken as one book, the action builds throughout, hitting a steady stream near where the book was broken in two, and goes on to the climax.
Over a decade ago, “the Others” arrived on Earth. They have since carved up much of the planet into private kingdoms. Humans remain in the leftovers, fighting over scraps. This is a post-apocalyptic romance.
I loved the strong female lead, Abel, her African and Spanish genetics, her ability with the sword and hand to hand fighting, her determination, and her emotional strength. I loved Kane, who is complex but honorable. The world-building was good and something I haven’t seen before. I enjoyed the “Others”. The pacing was good, most of the time, and there were some great action scenes. There was a good dose of violence, but it wasn’t described in gory detail. You can cut someone’s head off with a sword without describing blood sprays and such.
There is a cliffhanger ending, but the sequel is out. It’s basically one book split into two parts. I definitely want to read the next one, but I hate this modern tendency of splitting books. “The Stand” is hugely long but is one book!
Child molestation and rape is hinted at in some parts but not seen directly.
This is M/F. No cheating. No love triangle. It is written in 1st person pretense tense. I find this much less jarring than 3rd close present tense.
There are basically two sex scenes. They aren’t graphic but rather camera obscura. They lack detail, so the words could be taken to mean more or less depending on the reader. For example:
I tear his belt free and kick his pants off with my feet, then I tease him with my fingers and then again with my lips.
What is meant by this? Exactly where her fingers and lips go is up for interpretation.
Grammar and spelling: I found 13 errors in Population, including missing words, wrong words, and repeated words or phrases. Not bad at all. This is aside from the routinely missing commas between two independent clauses, missing commas after introductory clauses, and extreme run-on sentences that I have accepted as the author’s style of writing. This is fiction, not academia, so the rules are less rigid. I found this style distracting because my brain shouted “error” frequently, and the run-on sentences were confusing at times.
Unrealistic Timing: Abel is seriously hurt after the forest cult part in the beginning but seems mostly recovered 1-2 days later. She has never worn heels, wears and dances is stilettos for 48 hours, and no mention is made about swollen ankles or legs. There is definitely some almost instalove. It happens pretty fast. But I’m okay with it.
Confusion: Earlier in the book, Abel talks about having been raped or was it attempted rape that was thwarted? I thought two of a gang had actually succeeded until the second sex scene when blood is obliquely mentioned twice along with some pain. If she wasn’t a virgin, where do the pain and blood come from? At the least, it’s unclear. At most, there is a contradiction.
There were times when the story got too close to familiar fairytales. There was some “Beauty and the Beast” when Abel first gets to Kane’s estate and some “Cinderella” with the ball preparation.
I would have given this 4 stars, but the aforementioned problems drop it to a 3 for me. I will be reading the second half of this ONE book.
In the second half, action is
almost nonstop with lots of gory fight scenes and drama. Each chapter has a
black and white inkblot image above the chapter title, blood splatter, and they
are appropriate! The violence is certainly amped up. Abel goes through hell,
one desperate situation to another, and keeps her determination and resilience.
It was a wild ride, very fast paced, and kept me reading very quickly. It made
me laugh out loud a few times. The humor was appreciated amidst the intensity.
It tickled my funny bone that the villain always sets up in dental office
buildings. I liked the secondary characters, especially Mikey.
There are a couple of short sex
scenes, not graphic. Romance is not the focus of the second half of the ONE
book. There is some OM drama. I was very happy that our main couple dealt with
this in a mature fashion, by talking it out. It didn’t cause anything stupid to
happen except a ridiculous fight for fair maiden’s hand.
I found more errors in this half
– 17. Mostly missing words, a few repeated words or phrases. As with the first
half of the ONE book, commas are missing everywhere, but I accepted that as
writing style long ago. At the opening of this half of the ONE book, I thought
to myself, “Someone has a thesaurus.” Many words were used that just aren’t
common enough to be in Abel’s thoughts since she hasn’t spent the last decade
This is a 1st person
present tense novel. One scene could be considered cheating, but wasn’t exactly
consensual, so I don’t want to call it cheating. OM drama. Occasional foul
language, but it gets as bad as it can. HEA.
A third book is hinted at called “Generation 1”. I couldn’t find anything when Googling this. If it is published, it will at least be a totally different book than this ONE.
Strong Female Characters! They don’t have to tote guns, being strong emotionally is more important. I do love a woman who can fight though. The woman with the hilarious comebacks who throws punches is my favorite.
Honorable Male Characters – even thieves have their own code of honor. If the strong woman is going to fall in love with them, they need to be worth it! They can become worth it over the course of the story, but I have to believe it.
Humor – even serious stories about heartbreak need a little comic relief from time to time.
New and interesting ideas, surprises, and twists. I’m not big on clichés. If a story has to have them, I at least want twists on them.
Characters with depth – multiple facets to their personalities, realistic imperfections, good characters who aren’t all good and bad characters who aren’t all bad, and good back stories.
Great writing – stories that flow, feel right, and keep me turning the page.
Plot beyond two people falling in love. I want interesting things to happen. It doesn’t have to be an epic battle. It could be a bunch of funny incidents, characters going through emotional growth, or some great secondary characters. I need spice to keep me interested.
Good grammar and spelling – It doesn’t matter to me who edited or proofread the book, just that it was done. If I run into multiple grammar, spelling, and word usage errors within a few pages, I will stop reading.
What Is Okay With Me
OTT or Instalove
Alpha males (dominating to some extent, jealous, possessive, etc. but NOT abusive)
Graphic sex scenes (as long there is a plot beyond this)
Dark elements (kidnapping, non-consent, etc.)
1st and 3rd close past tense
What I Hate
Man whores and players! OMFG! They are everywhere! A novel has to be brilliant in other respects for me to get past the lead male being a man whore. I like bad boys – bullies, loners, discipline cases, bank robbers, bikers, mobsters, mercenaries, pirates, ruthless corporate types, whatever, but men/boys who have sex with anyone and treat them like expendable trash, and especially those that lie to get it, piss me off. When girls fall for these guys, I think they are stupid, and I don’t like stupid lead characters. The girl also always seems to be a virgin in these novels. Now there is a big difference to me between someone who is promiscuous and a man-whore. My definition of a “Man-whore” – a man who lies to get sex, making women think he cares about them when he doesn’t. He might not be charging money, but he makes the women pay!
Cheating – once a couple is together, anything more than a little kissing is unacceptable. I definitely don’t want to read a graphic sex scene with Other Man/Other Woman. The only possible exception is a novel that is about the redemption of a cheater, which brings me to:
Easy forgiveness – I absolutely hate it when a girl forgives a guy for cheating after they are together. Making her jealous or getting revenge should never work to get the girl! If a girl is going to forgive this, it should require a ton of groveling and time.
OM/OW Drama (other man / other woman) – if a major plot element is an OW/OM trying to steal one of the main characters in a romance, I probably won’t like it. If this is a small part, it will annoy me, but I can move on.
Glaring inconsistencies, bad timing, and unrealistic problem resolution – Novels where everything happens over the course of a few days when it logically should have taken months. The girl who was raped practically jumps in bed with the guy. The abused girl who supposedly went mute but talks up a storm an hour into the story and becomes super bubbly on day two.
Novels that aren’t finished in one book – sequels are great, but they should be about secondary characters or the further adventures of… I want the main plot tied up in one book. I want my most important questions answered. If a really long book needs to be broken up, then I want a warning – call it “Part 1 of 3” or something. I can’t stand it when these sneak up on me! When reading published books, I never start a trilogy until all three books are available. Occasionally I will still love a book like this that snuck up on me, but I’m pissed about it.
Horrible grammar, spelling, and word usage – I can’t even read things that have an error per page or more. They give me headaches. I will put a note in my review if I find more than four errors per chapter. If I find less than around thirty errors total, I will mark them along the way and send them to the author.
Other Things I Just Don’t Like
Women that are stupid or gullible
Women with low self-esteem
Perfect, one-sided characters
Overnight changes in characters
Mean and/or abusive parents
Fated Mate Rejection
Wimpy damsels in distress that do nothing to save themselves
(Any of these genres can be erotic as long as there is an overall plot beyond the sex.)
What I Do NOT Read
I’m adding this in January 2020 as I’ve been getting requests for things not listed above. So don’t waste my time or yours with:
Anything with no romance in it. The only rare exception is post-apocalyptic without zombies as noted above.
Nonfiction (with the possible rare exception of hysterically funny travel stories)
The first, second, etc. in an ongoing series with cliffhanger endings when the last one isn’t out yet. Seriously! I don’t read even best-selling series until they are all published and a true ending is available.
This is the second book in the series and continues right where the first left off. There wasn’t a cliffhanger, so you don’t have to read this one.
I enjoyed parts of this. The fight scenes were especially good.
Other Man and Other Woman drama is the core story here, so if you hate that, stay away. There is a fake out dream scene – we are subjected to a sex scene with OM. Even if it isn’t real, we still had to read it.
If you enjoy OM/OW drama, go for it!
I would love to read the third book the author planned, but she seems to have disappeared from the book world around 2012.
I’m a big fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and romance, so the joining of the two is one of my favorite sub-genres. And I really like this one.
About nine years ago, the economy crashed, followed by technology, and then civilization as a whole, wiping out most of the population through starvation, disease, and violence. Selena has been on her own, not even talking to another person, since her father died four years ago. She is almost caught by a group of nasty men and ends up hiding in the same building and room as Dan, who is also avoiding the same men. After the group gives up on finding Selena and leaves, Dan forces her to return to his small group with him.
It’s written in close 3rd, always with Selena. I would have liked to have followed Dan some of the time for sure. I didn’t get to know him as well as I hoped, but I liked what I saw. There is no cheating, no OW. There’s a man who wants to be an OM, but Selena has zero interest in him.
It’s a little steamy. There are only two sex scenes in this book, and they aren’t that graphic. The first starts with some nonconsensual touching. I’ve read in other reviews that some readers view this scene as rape. I didn’t see it that way myself, so it’s at least subjective. Dan gave Selena a chance to stop him, and she didn’t take it. We also know that she’s already attracted to him. The reader has had some foreplay. Selena says, “I hate you,” but I took it like “I hate that you have the power to make me feel so strongly because it scares me”. Afterwards, Selena hasn’t been traumatized and is actually regretting not showing that she wanted Dan more, afraid that he might not want her the same way anymore. However, if you are sensitive to things like this, if it’s a trigger for you, then definitely stay away. The second scene is fully consensual and even initiated by Selena.
There are some strange formatting errors. Most of the book is left justified with paragraph indents, but sometimes there are several paragraphs that are fully indented like a block quote. I found very few actual grammar / spelling errors.
I enjoyed the story and really liked the action scenes. They are described and paced very well. I especially liked Selena’s parts in the fights. Selena is strong in that she’s a survivor and has some skills. But she’s been emotionally and socially stunted by her life experience. She acts childishly at times, but I liked that she called herself out on it. Her behavior makes sense for her life experience, and she grows along with the story.
I agree with other reviewers that the story could use some work, but it’s a good read as is. If you have a fascination with post-apocalyptic romance like I do, then I recommend it.