Stephen Wallenfels – POD
Length: 212 pages
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi
Started: 10 April 2011
Finished: 12 April 2011
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? My dad heard/saw a review of it somewhere, and passed on the recommendation to me as something in which I might be interested.
Aliens that won’t
let you outside? TBR
pile to the rescue!
Summary: The aliens arrive at five in the morning. There’s a terrible screeching noise, and there they are: innumerable giant black spheres, hovering over the city. There’s no message, no demands, no idea what they want; the spheres simply hover there, cutting off all communication, and using beams of light to immediately disintegrate any person who steps outside. Fifteen-year-old Josh is stuck in his suburban Washington home with his father and his dog; twelve-year-old Megs is left in her mom’s car in the parking garage of an L.A. hotel. Megs has to scour the other cars to find enough food and water, while avoiding the power-mad thugs that used to be hotel security; Josh’s relationship with his increasingly compulsive father starts to deteriorate the longer they are cooped up together. Both narrators are struggling to survive until life can return to normal, but with no word from the aliens and no indication that they’ll ever be leaving, normal might just be gone forever.
Review: Unlike most sci-fi/fantasy books that I enjoy this much, POD’s strength wasn’t in its intricate worldbuilding. Instead, it operates from a pretty straight-forward premise: one day, with no warning or explanations, the aliens show up, and they will kill you if you go outside. What do you do? Wallenfels gives us the answer as to what his two narrators do, but half of the strength of the book is how it puts the reader on edge, makes us cast a wary eye in the direction of the pantry, forces you to ask yourself how long you could last.
The stories of Josh and Megs are plenty involving in their own rights, as well. Wallenfels’s prose is clean and straight-forward, and he does a good job of giving them each a unique and believable voice. I was also impressed by how bleakly realistic he was willing to be: his characters aren’t spared some brutal realities and hard choices, and they don’t always make the decisions I expected. Finally, the structure of this book – quick, short chapters in alternating viewpoints – is the most dangerous kind. The story’s so involving and so exciting that I just need to get through one more chapter before bed, just to find out what happened, and then maybe just one more, and then before you know it I’ve been up for an hour totally absorbed in the book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: This book was so good that I can’t believe a) that it’s Wallenfels’s first novel, and b) that everybody isn’t reading it already. Seriously. Calling all fans of YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic sci-fi: You should read this! It’s short, and extremely fast-reading. I won’t tell your current book you’re cheating on it to read POD instead. You can thank me later.
First Line: The screeching wakes me.
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