Friday, April 20, 2012

Sharing Good Books: Hive

Hive (No Man's Land Series #1) - by Griffin Hayes
Nearly two hundred years after the planet was ravaged by millions of undead Zees, the human race is still struggling to rebuild. The Zees may be long gone, but so too are centuries of scientific advancement.

A group calling themselves The Keepers of Knowledge have set out to retrieve and protect what little technology survived the fall. When four of their Prospectors go missing, the Keepers turn to a no-nonsense mercenary named Azina and her eclectic crew of hardened veterans to find them.

The search leads the group to a crumbling underground city. But what looks like just another ruin from a bygone era isn't nearly as deserted as it appears. Soon, a simple rescue mission becomes a slippery descent into hell as Azina and her men unwittingly awaken a savage, bloodthirsty world. Who will stand and fight, and who will be lucky enough to stay dead?

(Summary from Amazon)

I love zombie fiction, and HIVE is exactly the kind of zombie story I like. It's set far into the future, which is far more appealing to me than zombie fic that takes place during the initial outbreak. I think it's more fun to imagine the lasting effects of the zombie apocalypse rather than read or write yet another version of how they come to be. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. I read those, too. I just love the world-building in post-apocalyptic tales.)

I don't tend to read novellas but am glad I read Hive. For .99 on Amazon, it's a steal. Most of the free or bargain priced books I've gotten for my kindle are painful to get through. It makes me feel for agents and editors tackling their slush piles.

Hive is nothing like those slushy books--it's actually pretty fantastic. The cover is just perfect, too. Creepy and graphic and indicative of what's inside.

The story moved along at a good pace, with the action scenes clear in my mind--which is so important for something action-heavy like this. The voice was great, very engaging. I pictured the MC almost like Frankie from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow... fierce, badass, and likeable despite (because of) her hardness. I'm usually not even a fan of first person present POV, but Hayes does it so well that it adds to the story, not detracts.

I thought the characters were realistic and well rounded. Especially considering this is a novella, he did a great job fleshing out the characters. Even with the low word count, some of the characters felt more real than those in beefier books. Sneak, especially, struck me as as a compelling character. I want to know her story.

That's the problem with novellas--I wanted more! (But that's just me being selfish and not a fault of the author's.) I could easily have read this at 80-100k words and not been bored. The world Hayes built was really rich, and I loved all the hierarchy and structure, because that's what people do. It made sense. Luckily for us, this is the first in the series. I spoke with the author and a lot of the questions Hive left me with seem like they'll be answered later on. Good! Because in the short time we had, I really grew to love these characters.

Of course, the ending was jam-packed with action, I mean... hello, zombies! Hayes created some really original zombie mythology here. The whole concept of the hive itself--being able to sense the others, their communication--it was so unique, but it made so much sense. It doesn't violate my sense of zombie history, but instead, I feel like it's a missing piece of zombie lore that we're gifted with.

Also, I feel like I must mention that the night I read Hive, I had an Amish zombie inspired dream. Hive was good, I really, really, really wanted more, and it gave me a fantastic scary dream. Why aren't you reading it yet?

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