Hollowland is the second Amanda Hocking title I’ve picked up, though I didn’t care much for my first foray into her work with Switched. This time around, I found more to like about the characters, but the story never quite caught on with me.
Remy is a much more realistic character to my mind, and her circumstances also make her initial selfishness perfectly validated. This is not a nice happy world anymore, and people have to make hard, sometimes selfish choices to survive. Remy feels guilt for the choices she makes right away, so this converts into a sort of mothering instinct toward her younger charge, Harlow. Then there’s new arrivals Lazlo and blue, creating a sort of dysfunctional family. Or first, they get a pet lion. (No, really.) Then they pick up guys. So it’s like Zombieland, but without the cute nerdy narration. Remy is a good narrator, don’t get me wrong. But she’s rarely funny, and when she is, it’s more the scene she’s describing that’s funny than her delivery. Given the world she’s in, her style of delivery is realistic.
So what’s the problem? Well, the first obstacle the group faces is your standard religious fanatic. Given how the opening showed some new things going on with the zombies, I was really hoping this book might go in a new direction from other zombie books. But the first stop on the road trip is SOP for almost every single zombie book in existence. Got zombies? Then you’ve probably got a religious kook claiming this is proof or their visions/prophesies/interpretations of Revelations/whatever. So having it be almost the first stop on the trip dampened my enthusiasm a lot.
The story rolls through other pit stops, and some of them are more interesting than the cult leader. But nothing really stirred me like the early scenes of the book, like in the Las Vegas scene (Also a requirement for many zombie stories, a visit to the dead Sin City) where I was ready to start shouting instructions at Remy. (“No! It’s a TRAP! Hide, Remy!”)
The conclusion is…well it’s good in that Remy shows a level of self-awareness that I admire. But the ending also left me feeling very meh. It makes sense, so I’m not really complaining. It just didn’t move me that strongly. Overall, I liked the main characters and their dialogue was good. Scenery was described well enough as were the characters. It’s solid writing, and I don’t recall seeing any typos or major mistakes. There may have been some here and there, but the story was interesting enough to keep me from noting mechanical issues. The writing didn’t get in the way of the story, in other words.
But I wasn’t wowed by the story as it played out. Still it’s not a bad read, and I would recommend it to fans of zombie fiction. The zombies here are fast and organized at times, kinda like the folks in 28 Days Later, so canon-rigid diehards might find a reason to complain. I thought the zombies were interesting and a good take on the trope, so I give Hollowland 3 stars. It’s no Masterpiece Theater, but it’s miles ahead of Zombie Strippers for substance.