storytimewithbuffy

Vacation

In Book Reviews on July 31, 2013 at 6:00 am

Vacation

Tomas Dunne Books 2011

Chaos – always close, always one attack away. The pressure from the Can Heads always there, always mounting.

I’ve taken a departure from my usual fare of post-apocalyptic zombie stories and have sauntered into the realm of cannibals. Exciting, eh?

Nutshell blurb: A global crisis kills off plants and animals and gives rise to a new type of human dubbed ‘Can Heads’ who are attacking and eating survivors. Jack and his family decide to leave New York City for a vacation in a secluded area which is reputed to be free from Can Heads.

I had some mixed feelings about this book. I feel like I should start by telling you the things I didn’t like so that I can end this post with the things that I did like.

So, what are Can Heads you might ask? You would be right to do so. I actually don’t know. I was really excited when I picked up this book because I’ve been reading so many zombie stories lately and it was nice to delve into something different. However, I never really got a feel for what these things were. They seemed pretty much like zombies to me, except that their bite didn’t turn people into zombies or Can Heads. They just went around eating people. There wasn’t much explanation about why they are or how they came to be that way and I found that to be a bit disappointing. Zombies are usually depicted as brainless, non-sentient creatures filled with a mindless hunger. When I think about cannibals, I think about people knowingly eating other people, whether they’re in the grip of religious mania or because they actually have nothing else to eat. I think of rituals and barbarians dancing around huge boiling pots usually with a fully dressed human inside a la Allan Quartermaine.

Obviously, it’s great to put a new spin on an old concept, but I didn’t feel that these things were much different than zombies.

Another problem I had was that I didn’t find the main character to be at all likeable. Jack was a jerk. I’ve read so many books which feature the hardened cop who isn’t in touch with his soft side and who doesn’t like to talk about his feelings. The wife is long-suffering and they bicker a lot. He always has to drive, even though he’s recovering from a leg injury and it’s very uncomfortable. He takes it all stoically and just expects her to understand. He can’t be happy with the woman he’s got and finds it difficult to hide his ogling. (Yes, we all ogle from time to time, but a bit of discretion is advisable.) I find it tedious. While I understand that people like this exist, I’m kind of tired of reading about them. We’re in the 21st century and it’s more acceptable for both men and women to show a wider range of emotions than ever before. It could be that I’m not the intended demographic for this book, in which case that would be quite a shame as I love a good actiony post-apocalyptic story.

The last negative thing I’ll say is that sometimes I didn’t like the writing style. I don’t mind a fragmented sentence here and there. It’s great for when you’re in someone’s head and it’s used to illustrate the tough situation they’re in, but I found that it was used a bit much in this book. This is a niggling, stylistic preference though, so don’t let that deter you.

Believe it or not, I really did like this book. There’s a lot of action and it’s just plain fun. The things I mentioned above are small things that made it good rather than amazing. I took this book with me on my daily commute to work, but found that I had to read it at home too. I was really caught up in all of it. I’m not sure if it’s one that I could re-read, but I’ll definitely read more of Mr. Costello’s work in the future.

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