A post-apocalyptic horror story? Another Stephen King wannabe? But, hey, as we know, there is only one Stephen King, EVER, and sometimes even Stephen King isn’t Stephen King. Now I do not think that emulating the Master was Jennifer Givhan’s intention, but still, you know. On the other hand, I never did fully grasp just what Ms. Givhan’s intentions were, though I know she had some. It’s just that the formulaic nature of this genre kept shouting to be heard. However, the lady does entertain and, as often as not, that’s quite enough.
Blinding flashes, an assumed nuclear incident, and, poof! . . . everyone’s gone. Cars and homes abandoned like the Rapture. Well, most everyone. Calliope, a Ph.D. archaeologist and hugely pregnant with twins, begins that obligatory trek/journey/quest in search of missing family – her mother, husband, and son, Phoenix. She is accompanied by the small Asian girl from next door, a six-year-old seer/clairvoyant/visionary, and, along the way they meet others wandering in the desert. They’re joined by Amy who is delightful, my hands-down favorite, a heavily tattooed young lady working her way through college as an exotic dancer who, it so happens, can also fly a plane. A plane will come in handy when those monstrous kachina dolls appear, and wouldn’t you know there’s a wee yellow one right over there. Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check!
But hold up! Calliope needs a………a what, a circus? No, silly, she needs a man. With a rifle. Handsome Native American physicist named Chance Guardian. Now please put the appellation anvil away, Ms. Givhan, ‘cause we get it, but damn right and check anyway. I hope he shows up for my apocalypse, but if he does I don’t want to be preggers, and I’ll just call him Cousin Bob. So they’re off. On Chance’s home reservation they discover that they had it backward all along. Alternate realities, parallel universes, you know – of course, and check!
So is there any merit here, or am I just being a curmudgeon? Both, I think, but for sure, I’m being a curmudgeon. It’s way more fun that way. While this first novel surely could be improved, that’s true more often than not, and this one keeps you reading. Future plans, Ms. Givhan? I’d like to see you give it another go.
Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by Blackstone Publishing via NetGalley. I would like to thank the publisher and the author for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed herein are my own.