Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The End & The Long Road - G.Michael. Hopf

The End
I have said it before: dystopian stories are having a moment.

And I am hugely susceptible to their wiles.

When TLC Book Tours approached me about reviewing the first two books in G. Michael Hopf's New World Series, how could I say no? My head knows that most dystopian books turn out to be a disappointment (thanks to the flooding of the market), but my heart cannot resist. In each new series, I see a potential next Hunger Games. And each new author is hoping I see the same thing. 

Hopf's series differs significantly from the Young Adult style to which most dystopian novels adhere. A former marine, Hopf's passion for his subject bleeds through the pages. His goal is to create awareness through entertainment.

The books are set in the very near future. Gordon, a former Marine, lives with his family in San Diego when an EMP attack renders the United States without any form of electronics. Gordon's brother and active Marine Sebastian is serving in Afghanistan.

What follows is a high-action drama surrounding the two brothers as they try to survive in the new world.  For the most part, I found the scenarios Hopf presented to be extremely plausible. An EMP attack is a very realistic way for America to be taken down and the pandemonium that would follow is nearly unimaginable.

Hopf kept the action going, there is no doubt about that. He depicts the post-apocalyptic violence with no holds barred.  While I do not usually mind violence, I have to admit that these books straddled my line of comfort. I understand fully that Hopf is likely writing with a good deal of accuracy regarding such a scenario. Still, it would have helped me to have a little more implied rather than described in detail.

The Long Road
In that same vein, the books wrestle with a good deal of moral issues.  Gordon puts his military training to frequent use as he defends his family and searches for resources. At the beginning, his actions seem like proper responses to the situation. Perhaps a bit on the extreme side, but well within reason. As the first book progresses, though, Gordon shows more and more tendencies toward being a bit trigger happy. 

The breaking point for me was when Gordon, trying to find asthma medicine at a hospital for a friend's son, shot another man searching for provisions for his own family. The man was not putting up a fight. Gordon shot him without a second thought. He defended that action throughout the rest of the book and continued this pattern of violence.

I'm sure Hopf would label me as naivé, but I simple cannot reconcile with unnecessary violence. Defending yourself and your family - that I absolutely understand. Killing people without first negotiating or even fully comprehending the situation - that does not sit well with me.

While Gordon is on a killing spree in his own neighborhood, one of Sebastian's commanding officers has commandeered an American fleet and, defying orders, headed toward the Pacific coast. The fragile U.S. government sees him as an enemy but is far too preoccupied with the mass chaos at home to chase him down. The commander, Sebastian, and other Marines attack a U.S. port in the Pacific to commandeer more ships and men. In the process, they kill other American soldiers. Again, here, Hopf advocates that violence is the solution to any problem once the world falls apart. While Gordon's murder of the medicine-seeking father left me uneasy, it was this scene of attack on other Americans that left Kevin disquieted.

Beyond the violence, though, the story itself was not bad. Hopf clearly knows his stuff when it comes to survival scenarios such as these. I appreciated that he presented Gordon as prepared, but not to an extreme. Gordon, while smart, was no survivalist with a bunker of canned goods beneath his house. He had to fight (literally) for the survival of his family just like everyone else.  

In spite of an intense, interesting story, Hopf struggles with the writing itself. These books, for me, were the ultimate example of telling and not showing. If you read the blog on a regular basis at all, you know that is one of my biggest pet peeves. When it came to dialogue, Hopf did well with conversations between men, such as Sebastian and other soldiers or Gordon and his neighbors. Yet, any sort of family dialogue became instantly stiff and unnatural. Hopf is a guy's writer, no doubt. He has a long way to go when it comes to writing a woman's voice.

Hopf definitely plans on drawing the series out. He sets up the premise by flashing forward several decades. Yet, in the books, he only covers the space of a few months. There is obviously a lot more story to tell.

In the end, I did enjoy the story aspect of these books. They made me think. I could certainly be more prepared for a disaster like this. Kevin enjoyed them and I recommended them to one of my coworkers. I think, ultimately, Hopf is targeting a very specific reader. As a mildly liberal woman who believes strongly in the power of the pen of the power of a weapon, I probably am not that reader. Still, the books were an interesting adventure into the dystopian genre. They reminded me a bit of Dies the Fire, but with roots much more firmly planted in reality. 

If you want to know more about Hopf, his books, and his thoughts on surviving, check out his website, his Facebook, or his Twitter. Also, don't forget to check out the thoughts of the other bloggers on the book tour

One last thing! The very generous TLC Book Tours is giving away a set of these two books to one lucky reader of Read.Write.Repeat. Enter via the Rafflecopter below. You can enter daily through Sunday. I'll announce the winner next week.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. Books like this always make me wonder how I'd handle a similar situation ...

    Thanks for being on the tour!