Book Review: Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Hollowland (The Hollows, #1)

Hollowland is the first in what is probably going to be a trilogy that takes on the now tired zombie apocalypse sub-genre. If the author’s name sounds familiar, its because Amanda Hocking ( a member of a very small group of authors who has become a millionaire through self-publishing her writing, which is no mean feat.
The plot revolves around the attempts of a young lady called Remy, to find her kid brother after they are separated when the military compound they are residing at is over-run by zombies. Her brother, Max, is the first person to have shown immunity to the mutated strain of rabies that has turned a big chunk of the worlds population into zombies. Remy has a rough idea of the direction in which the military have evacuated her brother to and sets out across the wasteland that was the USA, gathering companions along the way, including a fellow refuge from the overrun compound, a former rock-star, a med-student and a trained lioness. Remy and her group run into a number of bad situations, including zombie attacks, a messianic cult and marauders, only escaping through the leadership qualities and arse-kickery of Remy. Similarities to the Resident Evil movies and the Walking Dead series are inescapable when tackling this subject matter and therefore, the zombie-apocalypse sub-genre has become rather tiresome and done to death.
Remy, as a character, starts of rather callous towards her fellow humans, primarily because she is focused on finding her brother that she only sees people as something that will slow her down. She has had side-arm training from a soldier who rescued Remy and her brother from the wasteland and manages to kill a fair few with her bare hands and improvised weapons. But she eventually becomes more personable as the story progresses through her interaction with her companions and her grudgingly given affection for them. In fact, the only likeable person in the story is the med-student, Blue, which makes it a little difficult to care whether they survive or not.
The book ends in a rather abrupt manner, whilst building up to a high-stakes confrontation, but signing off just before it happens.
The writing isn’t brilliant either, with a number of awkward sentence structures that leave the reader confused to what is meant by them, missing worlds and the use of colloquialisms particular to the writer’s place of origin, which may be fine in dialogue but don’t work so well in general prose. But despite the hackneyed state of the sub-genre and the shortcomings of the writing, there is something very compelling about this book, whether its the frequency of action or the staunch conviction and focus of the lead character, I found myself thinking about the story more often than my other recent reads (and even dreaming about the zombie-apocalypse) and looking forward to picking it up again. I am not sure if I’ve become a fan of the author, but I may very well pick up the sequel just to see how much more trouble Remy can get herself into. So despite my misgivings, this book gets three stars and a recommendation as a decent holiday read.

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