Dystopian, Science Fiction

The Undying by Ethan Reid

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What drew me to this novel was the comparison that was made between this story and The Passage. Although I haven’t written a blog post about it yet, The Passage by Justin Cronin is one of my favorite books of all time. So, it makes sense that with a claim like this, I kind of HAVE to read this book and see if it lives up to my expectations.

Jeanie and Ben are just looking for a fun time when they arrive in Paris to celebrate the coming of the New Year with their friends. Everything is festive and fun – until all the lights go out at midnight. By the next morning, all hell has broken loose. There are fireballs raining down from the sky, buildings destroyed, people running around screaming. Whatever has happened in Paris, no one has any idea how far its effects have spread. As Jeanie, Ben, and their friends try to flee the burning city, they are worried of what is yet to come. So far, only Jeanie has witnessed pale, vampiric survivors who seem to have a strong hold on her whenever she sees them. These cunning beings soon become known as les moribund – the undying – and their numbers increase drastically. When fate puts a newborn baby in Jeanie’s care, she will stop at nothing to keep the infant safe and get out of Paris – even if it means leaving everyone else behind.

I’m struggling as to where I should begin. I did not enjoy this book. I really did not. It did not live up to the expectations I had and it in no way is comparable to The Passage. So what made it fail?

For one thing, the characters. They were so stereotypical. You need your whiner/pessimist, your comedic relief character, and the determined, courageous, selfless lead. The author didn’t really do anything to make them unique as they acted just like these descriptions I gave you. I sort-of liked Jeanie because she had guts and was a go-getter, but I had no emotional connection to her. The way the characters spoke and interacted was stilted and emotionless, making it really hard to visualize. The whole baby idea sounded interesting in the premise but it was poorly executed; Jeanie is just handed this baby and within 2 seconds, she is all gaga about this child and having flashbacks and talking about how therapeutic holding a baby is. Seriously? There is a disaster going on, so you need to hustle and maybe you should be having some doubts about taking on this baby instead of just smiling and cooing at it. While that bothered me, what annoyed me even more was that as the story progressed, the baby became more of an object than an important part of the story. I mean, this story could have still worked without this infant thrown into it.

I did not like the writing style employed here. The prologue that was in the beginning was confusing, and turned out to be linked to the ending of the book. When I was reading the novel, I was unaware of this, so the prologue just made me confused, not intrigued. I also hated that the story kept flitting back between French and English; while I understand French (thank you to my french teachers all through high school!), it was frustrating to switch back and forth in the book and also to have Jeanie feel confused about what was being said as she translated things in her head. There were also too many pointless flashbacks. Literally every paragraph was followed by some mini-flashback to a tragic event in Jeanie’s life. I get it, it is a sad thing, boohoo, now let’s move on to the action! There are zombies and mutinies going on outside, and I really don’t want to be spending my time reading about how sad Jeanie is that her father passed away. There were also short chapters that were flashbacks thrown right in at random points that did nothing to add to the plot and were a complete waste of time to read.

I really don’t want to continue to bash this book. I know that the author must have put a lot of effort into writing this story, and I do acknowledge that. Suffice to say, it did not work for me on many different levels. It is part of a series, however based on my experience with this novel, I have no plans on continuing to read on.

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