“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”
Ninteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.
So after picking up Hollowmen recently, I got about 5% in and then I was like, okay, don’t remember who that is… and I don’t remember who this person is, either… and decided that if I wanted to have any idea of who was who, I was going to have to reread the first book. I recently finished it and there was a lot of stuff I didn’t remember from my first read, so it was interesting enough to reread 2.5 years later.
Overall, I thought Hollowland was okay. There were several spelling and grammar issues that grated on me quite a bit, though, aside from my issues with the book itself. I think having people nod and shrug for dialogue tags is one of my #1 pet peeves.
Anyway, on to the book!
Hollowland had a really strong opening, and while the pacing didn’t necessarily slow down, a lot of ridiculous things happened that made me raise my eyebrows and didn’t necessarily invest me in the book. The lion was really over the top and hard to believe, and I found myself inwardly eyerolling at a lot of stuff. But yep… there’s a lion.
While some of the characters had the potential to be interesting, they are basically introduced and then not really developed any further, so the dangerous situations the characters get themselves into don’t carry as much weight as they otherwise might. I didn’t find myself that attached to anyone, which was a disappointment, since I think growing attached to the characters is an important part of a book like this – you want to see them safely through the story – but if the attachment isn’t there, it’s a lot harder to find yourself caring about what is happening.
Remy is badass, but she’s too badass to be believable. While she is driven by her desire to protect her little brother, that’s where her motivations end. She’s almost robotic and what few emotions she does feel are there for a moment and then gone, and generally not brought back up later. Unfortunately for the book, she’s the only character with any driving force – the other characters are interesting enough when introduced, but by the end of the book, I knew as much about them then as I did when they were introduced. The reader gets maybe a sentence or two of backstory about most of the supporting cast and that’s it.
One thing that bugged me – Remy always insists that she is better off alone and whatnot, but as far as the reader knows, she has NEVER been alone during this whole zombie apocalypse thing. She was with her brother up until they reached the quarantine, and then she was with Sommer and Harlow… so she has never traveled alone. I couldn’t understand why she kept thinking that other people would only slow her down and she had always been better off alone before, because… I can’t think of a situation in which she would have been traveling alone.
There were some other weird continuity-type things that bugged me, or other rationalizations that simply did not make sense. For example, Remy tells the reader that the “zombies” aren’t really living-dead zombies, but people infected with a virus and essentially driven mad by it, but then the book basically goes on to just treat them as zombies anyway. I was also a little confused on what would and wouldn’t kill a zombie, since some seem like they are 90% rotted and still basically unstoppable, and others seem to be downed by one attack.
All of that aside, Hollowland was a pretty fast read. Remy was a badass, which is cool despite my issues with her characterization, and I enjoy zombie books quite a bit in general. I liked the world Hocking introduced us to, even though I wish we had a better idea of how things had started – even a guess would have been better than nothing, and I found it strange that Remy didn’t once wonder about it.
I would say that Hollowland is worth at least checking out, especially seeing that it’s free right now. And I definitely still prefer it over Hocking’s other novel that I read, Switched.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars