Rating: 1 Star
Jonah focused through the rifle scope, staring at the zombies swarming around the tunnel’s exit. He had one bullet, with four undead blocking his only way out.
It’s the year 2134 and the last remnants of humanity live in walled-in cities, controlled by a totalitarian government. Regularly, they stage The Darwin Games, where convicted criminals fight for their lives outside the city gates. Not only do they have to survive the other contestants, since only one gets to leave alive, but also the zombies that populate the areas outside the city.
Jonah Lovecraft, former Watcher and Underground spy, convicted for his wife’s murder, fights in the games. Meanwhile, inside the city, his daughter Ana und his on Adam, confront the bleak reality of life as orphans in City 6.
This book had potential but unfortunately, it didn’t live up to it. I like dystopias and I have a weakness for books with totalitarian governments. I like the oppressive atmosphere of walled in cities, where your every move is watched and you don’t know who you can trust.
The worldbuilding remained generic. We have the generic walled in cities. We have a generic post-apocalyptic setting and we have a generic evil government. Even the zombies were bland with nothing to distinguish them from thousands of other zombies in hundreds of other books and movies.
We have a generic evil government who is barely described. It is one of those who are evil for the sake of evil. People are killed off by this government in an attempt to show how evil they are, even if it makes absolutely no sense for the government to kill them. We don’t get to know why the government does what it does. What are the motivations of the villains? We never get to know. They just are bad. That’s it. What happens is that instead of feeling the oppressive atmosphere that I would have liked to see, you get more of a cackling cartoon evilness.
Someone had decided the halls should be painted black, since according to The State, other colors seemed to inspire “ill tempers.”
The Darwin Games are described by the authors themselves as The Hunger Games meets zombies. Unfortunately, adding zombies into the mix is just not enough to make it different. Instead, the fast-paced action and tension of the Hunger Games is missing. What we get is a bunch of people running around, away from zombies and killing zombies and each other. No character is given so much focus that I could really care when one of them got killed.
The Final Battles were almost impossible for civilians to avoid; even four-year-olds knew when it was Finishing Day. It was the biggest day for The Stat-run television, always on a Sunday so everyone could watch, and was also a huge boon to the gambling industry – the legal, and illegal, ones.
That leads me to the biggest flaw in the book, which was the characters. They remained bland throughout the book and lacked their own agenda. So many times it felt like the characters do what the plot requires them to do, with no true inner motivation. Often the actions are not in line with the way the characters were described before. For instance Ana, who dislikes Liam in the beginning, is jealous of another girl later and it felt way to sudden. Instead of a relationship developing between the two over time, it felt like the romance was shoehorned into it. People trusted people with absolutely no reason, just because the plot required them to. In a city where everyone is controlled and everyone could be a spy, you don’t go around randomly trusting people. You test them.
I trusted your father the second I saw him, Anastasia, so I saw no reason to wait.
Another thing that really annoyed me was the capitalization of nearly everything. The City, The Watch, The Wall. By doing this you regularly get passages like this one:
But he wasn’t in The Social, or even behind The Wall. He was in The Barrens playing The Darwin Games, were thinking with your dick got you killed more often than not.
It could have really been something, if more care had been put into the worldbuilding and the characters. Also, there should have been more to distinguish their Darwin Games from the Hunger Games. The writing was (the capitalizations excluded) fluid and despite leaving me slightly bored, it was easy to get through the book. Unfortunately, all in all the book is too bland to really enjoy.
It is the first in a serial, so maybe it will pick up in future books, but after the first one I will skip this series.