Friday, October 10, 2014

After the Parch - Sheldon Greene

Summary:  It's 2075. California is nothing like we know it. The USA has broken up and California has become an independent refuge dominated by a single omnipotent corporation. Eighteen-year-old Bran, a shepherd, is given a mission to traverse the California republic in ten days, in order to save his rural community from forfeiting its land. On the way, he teams up with a seventeen-year-old girl who has the skills and prowess of a warrior, an eleven-year-old wild boy with uncanny survival skills, and a wandering musician with a secret revolutionary agenda. After the Parch is a fast-paced, vivid, dystopian fantasy with a chilling resemblance to the way we are, and a vision of what we might become. It's a well-crafted story and the plot flows naturally from one crisis to another, with three-dimensional characters right up to the taut and positive climax. (Summary and image from  I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.)

My Review:  When I was growing up, I had a dog who loved to chew up puzzle pieces.  Well, the darn dog would chew up anything -- but she had an affinity for puzzle pieces.  The incomplete puzzles would drive me absolutely crazy, and since my family loves doing puzzles, having an intricate, beautiful puzzle completed except for the five or so pieces that our dumb dog had snacked on drove me nuts.   Frankly, the only thing I could imagine that would frustrate me further would be mixing the puzzle pieces together, throwing the boxes  and half the pieces away, and trying to build one puzzle of the mess.

Upsettingly, that's what After the Parch reminded me of.  There were too many puzzle pieces missing.  The characters were frustratingly one-dimensional, and worse - they were despicable creatures with no redeeming qualities to be found.  The writing style, present tense, works so well when done correctly to convey a sense of urgency.  However, since the novel is in the third person, it fell completely flat to me, and frankly made it more difficult to follow the story.  

Bran is tasked with purchasing a patent for the land he and his group have been living on illegally for the last few years.  Things don't go as planned, and he finds himself embroiled in more trouble than he imagined.  A three-day errand ends up with Bran as an outlaw, a terrorist act (I think) gone wrong, and a hodge-podge of characters weaving in and out of the mix. 

I just couldn't bring myself to care about the struggle, because it fell too flat.  It felt more like a (no-details-spared) narrative of going on a ten-day trek to the DMV.  Coupled with the numerous spelling and grammatical errors throughout the book, I struggled to finish it.

My Rating:  One star

For the Sensitive Reader:  Numerous and graphic descriptions of sex, including the seduction of a child, murder, sexual torture ... stay away.  

1 comment:

Sally T. said...

Thank you - I almost picked this one up and then saw via goodreads y'all had a review on it. Saved me some time!


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