What A Wonderful Wasteland begins with the cliché sawed-off shotgun & phrases that seem to be used over and over in the zombie genre, so I was tempted to bow out of reviewing this blog. On the other hand, I said I would, so I read through the whole blog. I tried to keep an open mind, but at this point, having read dozens of zombie novels, blogs, poems, flash, etc…it’s hard not to form opinions as I read.
Jack Cairncross is our survivor, chronicling his experiences on his computer. Jack is joined in his fortified house by his friends Eric and Ryan, their parents and siblings, and Jack’s dad. Later they are joined by Jack’s mom and brother. It was a little difficult to follow how all the various people arrived at Jack’s house. There are other survivors outside of the house, nearby and in other locations.
Luckily for Jack, his mom is in a community survival class (where can I sign up for a class like that?!), which sounds a bit far-fetched, but my personal experience in a military family, as well as the survival skills that my husband and I have accumulated, prove to me that “far-fetched” does not mean impossible. Thanks to his mom, and a few contributions from the others, they have a decent amount of supplies to begin with.
The biggest problem I had was all the details jumped over from one entry to the next. For instance, where did the foreign exchange student come from? I also had a hard time keeping track of who was related to whom because the characters weren’t introduced by their full names. I wish Jack wrote a list of who was there to begin with, and then revise it accordingly, instead of the sporadic updates.
I did appreciate that Jack had a copy of the Zombie Survival Guide, and was actually trying to do everything according to Max Brooks. I wasn’t surprised when things went wrong for his group anyway; a manual of any kind isn’t going to be much help to people who haven’t had the necessary training.
There’s a lot of action in the blog entries, but not many details on the interaction between survivors, so Jack comes off as really self-centered. There didn’t seem to be much emotion behind his words either. I think some readers are going to have a very difficult time sympathizing with Jack. Some scenes were simply hard to swallow; I had to suspend my disbelief more than once, particularly with the bullet wounds, and recoveries.
However, the blog does improve as time goes on, and I think as this blog progresses, the author will find more ways to connect with readers. I look forward to seeing how Jack will change over time, and I hope it reflects in his style of writing.