Friday, July 18, 2014

Genre Mish-Mash Novel Exciting, If Not Gush-Worthy

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's been 20 years since the Visitors came, splintering the moon and creating a world of eternal sunset.  No one's seen an alien since—although it's difficult to be sure, since word is, they're capable of hijacking human bodies to use for their own nefarious purposes.  Why are the Visitors making such an obvious return now?  To finish the job they started, to erase the human race for good.  Only one man might be able to stop them—too bad he's been gone, presumed dead, for years.

With the threat of annihilation hanging over her head, Megan Bridgwater knows it's time to leave Marfa, Texas.  The 15-year-old has been meaning to do it for a long time, anyway.  Ever since her father, an experienced tracker, disappeared into the lawless Zone, she's been aching to go find him.  Now, it's not just her who needs him—the fate of their entire world may depend on the success of Megan's mission.  With her trusty steed, Cisco, and Luis, the boy who would risk anything to catch her eye, she sets off into the wild unknown with only a sketchy map to guide her.  

No one knows exactly what secrets the Zone hides, but the rumors are frightening enough to keep sane people far, far away from it.  Now, Megan is plunging right into its heart.  With danger of every possible kind lurking around each bend, there's little chance of her making it out alive, let alone finding her father or saving the world.  But she has to try.  No matter what the cost—which just might mean everything and everyone she loves.  

Where the Rock Splits the Sky by Philip Webb is a difficult book to describe.  It incorporates such a mish-mash of genres that it's not accurate to label it just a Western or just a dystopian or just a sci-fi adventure.  It's all of those things.  Which makes it unique and memorable, if not gush-worthy.  The novel, which only stretches to 262 pages, offers thrills aplenty, making it an exciting, edge-of-your-seat kind of read.  Character development suffers a bit in favor of world-building, which I found disappointing.  I also thought the story's big twist was cliché and thus, very predictable.  All in all, though, I enjoyed this Western/dystopian/sci fi/supernatural thriller.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs) and violence/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received a hardcover, finished copy of Where the Rock Splits the Sky from the generous folks at Scholastic/Chicken House as well as an e-ARC via NetGalley.  Thank you!

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