Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A battle of the sexes


By James Demonaco and B. K. Evenson


Publisher: Anchor

Pub Date: April 4, 2017 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

We are knee-deep back into the apocalypse with Feral, a new science fiction thriller by James Demonaco and B. K. Evenson. This is not unknown territory for either Demonaco or Evenson as Demonaco is best known as writer and director for The Purge film trilogy and B.K. Evenson is a pseudonym for Brian Evenson whose Last Days remains one of the most memorable forays into weird speculative fiction in the 21st century. Yet in their collaboration, we enter a weirdly familiar zombie-esque environment that pits the sexes against each other,.

In Feral, Allie is going though the usual teenage angst with the biggest problem being telling her best friend that her boyfriend posted a sex tape on the internet. Yet these mundane issues seem trite when all the men become sick and start attacking the women. Allie is barely able to save her sister Kim from an attack by her father and soon they are the few survivors living in the world where all men have become feral, attacking and killing any female on sight.

Flash forward to three years later. The few surviving women have hunkered down in make-shift forts battling off the ferals who are like animals and simple in their rage. A scientist is attempting to find a cure to the disease using the ferals Allie catches in her hunting forays outside the settlements as guinea pigs . It is on these explorations that she discover the ferals are showing signs that they may no longer be mindless and disorganized. She also discovers something else that will turn the women's perception of the world upside down.

The battle of the sexes taken to extremes is what attempts to set this novel apart from the many other post-apocalyptic zombie type books that inundate the market place. Yet there is lot of it that still sounds very familiar. Lets look at the good parts first. Allie is a powerful protagonist. She is forced into the role of protector and doesn't look back. It doesn't seem to be a role she always enjoys. It is a reluctant calling. Her teenage angst has turned into a one-sided survivalism aimed primary at the protection of the community but mostly the survival of her younger sister. When the big reveal comes, she become torn between her community and her own emotions. She is the best thing about the tale and her choices are what drives the plot. The authors has also created a believable nightmare environment where we can feel the dangers and the risks involved as we learn more about the choices facing this community of women. I liked the overall flow of theme and action throughout the novel.

Yet when all is said and done, there is too much that feels familiar. Perhaps The Walking Dead have inured us to this type of story. Beside Allie and one other, there are really few rounded out characters. It feels a little too much like a graphic novel in prose and sometimes I could read "Movie Deal" between the lines which i do not consider a good thing. There is indeed a riveting final battle for survival at the end and the authors put their all into the description. But it wasn't enough to rise above the formula. In fact, it kind of cinched the formula

In the balance though, Feral does become a very entertaining read and will please those who like post-apocalyptic novels. There are some soft moments that add to the reader's concern for the protagonist in this book, giving us a nice blend of action and emotional connection. But for me, It just isn't enough to place it above the pack of novels like this. I know that may be a tall order but when I read something like this, it is what I look for. Ultimately, we have a good novel in the sub-genre but not a contender.

No comments:

Post a Comment