Monday, March 21, 2016

Reader's Review: "After Impact" by Nicole Stark

Synopsis from Amazon:

Avalon Adams wakes up 100 years in the future in a new habitat with few memories and lots of questions. At first, HOPE (Humanity's One Plan for Escape) habitat appears to be a well-oiled machine, preparing 5,000 carefully chosen inhabitants for a new Earth. However, a medical assistant named Ilium reveals that certain members of the habitat have been falling ill from a mysterious virus they were inoculated against. Soon, the tranquil illusion of HOPE habitat is shattered as Avalon plays a perplexing message left by her father. If Avalon is to survive this dangerous new environment ,she will have to find the strength to navigate a habitat enveloped in secrets.

This relentless, page-turning mystery thriller set in a post-apocalyptic world is the first in a series by author Nicole Stark. 


My Review:
Not long after I started reading ReAwaken, I received a message from an author I'd never heard of, requesting a review for her book. (I love that, by the way!) Never being one to turn down free books, I accepted. The fact that I was super-fascinated by the premise, and there were a lot of positive reviews got me really excited to read it. The premise at first glance might be similar to ReAwaken, but the same could be said for Hunger Games and Divergent, and look how well those turned out.

I have frequently said that great writing is a sort of telepathy—great stories plunge readers deep into the world of the characters, making them feel every sensation, every emotion. It's what makes the narrative come to life, to leap off the page and live and breathe in the mind of the reader. After Impact is a great example of the balance between showing and telling, and how important it is to have that balance.

Don't get me wrong, it started out okay: Avalon was disoriented, still learning, and a bit stiff from her long sleep. It was a neat way to introduce Illium and give her (and the reader) a sort of tour guide through the habitat that is the setting for most of the novel. However, Illium was a character that took a long time coming "off the page", as it were. The reader is told that Avalon developed sudden feelings for him, but I never really got a sense of what he looked like, much less his unique voice or any other kind of sensory description. The secondary characters were set up as one of two camps "Pro-Avalon" or "Anti-Avalon", and it was plain by the dialogue exactly where everyone stood.
I read features from various other dystopian novels, patched into this narrative in a very piecemeal way—it definitely gave the impression that the author is an avid fan of post-apocalyptic dystopian YA, and so she wanted a novella with all her favorite plot devices. However, these were so minced and piled into one another, rather than cultivated and explained as to "how" and "why" that it came off rather abrupt, and the ending fell flat.

In a sense, After Impact reminded me of my own early attempts at writing. Sci-fi is difficult, and with all the YA post-apocalyptic dystopian options out there, I understand the challenge of actually creating something new—but I also know that it is not impossible. I view this debut as very brave, even if a little rough, and I applaud it. In short, the novel left me wanting more: more about the setting, more variation between the characters, more emotion, more drive to the climax, and more closure in the ending.

I would give After Impact a rating of ***3.5 Stars***, but definitely I would also put Nicole Stark on a list of "Indie Authors To Watch", since this novella has demonstrated her marvelous creativity—so long as she continues to write, each successive release will be better than the last!