Greetings readers. Welcome to another book review and boy do I have a find for you today. A friendly disclaimer, this review does contain spoilers. However, this review is based on my observations and you should shape your own opinion about the novel in question.
This week’s read was Chasers by James Phelan. This piece of young adult thriller fiction is the first entry to Phelan’s “Alone” series. The book follows a teenage boy, Jesse, and his companions, Dave, Anna, and Mini. The group is happily riding the New York Subway when, in a flash, their world becomes a living nightmare. Emerging from the wrecked subway, the four have to overcome a new terror that wears the face of man but hungers for anything with a pulse. Held up in a nearby building, the group must find a way to escape or lose themselves to the isolation.
Jesse, unfortunately like many teenagers in post-apocalyptic novels, is unassuming, kind of goofy, and pretty much invisible. However, his attempts at humor and keeping high spirits plays well in a desperate situation. This trait is rarely seen anymore (at least for the novels I’ve read). Most of the time, the main character is a total loser and becomes a hardened hero who is serious the majority of the novel. Let’s joke a little. For his friends, Dave is the typical hotshot jock that mainly acts as the groups’ guide to the city. Anna seems indecisive and uncertain, especially when it comes to her feelings for Dave, and Mini, probably my favorite, just goes with her gut and is beyond likable. The characters, though limited, provide the isolation needed to show the viewpoint of a struggling survivor.
Now, I’m the last person, let alone anyone claiming to be an author, to talk about another author’s writing style. However, there was one particular thing that threw me for a loop constantly. The missing quotation marks. The writer’s go-to tool used to distinguish what character is currently talking. The marks were present in the first chapter and left after New York went to hell in the second. Now, this may not seem like a big deal but, it becomes irritating when I have to constantly backtrack to understand who is talking. Now, everything else spoke well with me. Unfortunately, the missing quotations marks was the biggest downer for me.
For a writer, a story is built on the conflict. Whether that is introduced early on or a few chapters in, the conflict drives the plot. The plot here is an old time favorite with an interesting twist. Zombies, sort of! These creatures possess an unquenchable thirst. Which is satisfied by water or blood; which leads them to attack other humans. The protagonists of the story are immediately thrown into chaos with no explanation for the walking thirsty. These monstrosities appeared immediately and forced the teenagers to seek shelter. Every action and decision they make is based on survival. Now, the mystery behind the outbreak and wondering if they’ll make it out alive is what drove my curiosity. However, nothing was really offered as to a clue into the cause of the destruction of the city or the outbreak. The teens throw around theories, but those do nothing to answer real questions. Additionally, I felt there was a lack of action in this novel. I would think that surviving meant getting your hands dirty and not hiding out the entire novel. I was expecting a horde of the creatures to storm their hideout and they would have to fight tooth and nail to get out alive. No such luck. I was thoroughly disappointed. Nothing adds to the desperation like charging through a crowd of dangerous beings and this story lacked it.
Chasers, in all actuality, is not a terrible novel. It has originality and a driving plot. However, certain areas affected it a negative way. For me, it was first the quotation marks. Why did they disappear? I don’t know, but it harmed the overall telling of the tale. It contributed to a lot of confusion and robbed the story of any flow. Second, the lack of clues and action. Why would I want to read the next story when I feel unsatisfied with the first? Maybe being left in the complete dark is the point but, at least one credible clue would peak my interest. Got Action? Not a lot. People watch horror films to watch people be torn from limb to limb or suffer an unthinkable death. Not to hold out completely safe until the end. So for me, I would give the book a 3.0/5. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you don’t mind the things I mentioned earlier. Anyway, the choice is yours to make.
If you liked this review, please hit that good old like button and leave a comment about something a book lacked that turned you off from it. Until the next review, be safe and keep reading.