Today’s book is The World Without Crows, by Ben Lyle Bedard.
Length: ~300 pages
Released: May 16, 2017
In 1990, the world ended. A disease turned people into walking shells of themselves. Zombies. Most of them were harmless, but some were broken by the pressure of the disease. The cracked became ravenous killers whose bite infected.
To escape the apocalypse, Eric, a young, overweight boy of 16, sets off on a journey across the United States. His plan is to hike from Ohio to an island in Maine, far from the ruins of cities, where the lake and the fierce winters will protect him from both Zombies and the gangs that roam the country.
Along the way, Eric finds friends and enemies, hope and despair, love and hatred. The World Without Crows is the story of what he must become to survive.
For him and the people he would come to love, the end is only the beginning.
The characters go through one hell of a wringer, but I just couldn’t get inside their heads.
I love me some good zombie fiction, and The World Without Crows delivers atmosphere in spades. It’s gritty and gory and carries that feeling of grim desperation that defines the genre. Bedard doesn’t shy away from describing the myriad gruesome events that our cast of characters encounter.
Unfortunately, that attention to detail didn’t extend to the characters themselves. Our hero, Eric, is exactly the kind of protagonist I love rooting for. He’s determined but flawed, troubled but optimistic, the epitome of an underdog – to put it plainly, he’s been through some shit.
…but I just didn’t feel anything from him. The narration is very tell-heavy – I wasn’t shown what Eric was thinking or feeling as he’s wandering through the wilderness alone. His emotions were mentioned in a very matter-of-fact way, even during such traumatic experiences as having a trusted friend gunned down in front of him. In the end, the book came across like a newspaper article – a dark and fascinating article for sure, but ultimately not a tale that made my heart pound or break or soar.
I’m passing on this one for now, but I would love to see The World Without Crows reworked to place the action a little more firmly inside Eric’s mind.