1 out of 4 stars
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Set in the aftermath of an apocalypse that killed anyone over the age of nineteen, Anhedonia by Quentin Henry II follows siblings Dorrian and Kamara as they struggle to survive in a world overrun by monsters. When Dorrian stumbles across a rare building that is still mostly intact, he can’t pass up the opportunity to see what resources are inside. He texts a picture of the place to Kamara to let her know where he is, and Kamara sees a nest of behemoths on the roof that Dorrian somehow missed. What else might Dorrian find inside, and can Kamara get to her brother in time to help?
I really wanted to like this book. I enjoy a good dystopian story, and this one also had various types of magic, including elemental powers. The description promised an interesting world and lots of action. In short, it was packed with a lot of things I love. Unfortunately, the book just didn’t deliver on most of the description’s promises. The dystopian setting is there, along with magic, but the story itself fell flat for me.
The book opens with Dorrian sitting on a rooftop and scoping out the rare intact building. Immediately, I wondered, if intact buildings are so rare, why is there an easily available rooftop within line of sight to the new structure? This was the first in a long line of questions that I never got answers for. While Dorrian’s watching the building, he falls into memories of his childhood, which take over for almost the rest of chapter one. I found myself bogged down in details of his life before The Fall (the apocalyptic event) and desperately wanting to get back to the main story. When things finally come back to Dorrian’s present, he snaps a picture and texts it to Kamara with his cell phone that is somehow working in this post-apocalyptic world with limited power and no mention of cell towers. At some point, there was a brief explanation for how Dorrian and Kamara’s phones were able to work, but I couldn’t figure out the logic behind it for the life of me.
Cut to chapter two, where we meet Kamara. After her own nearly chapter-long reflection on her past, Kamara receives Dorrian’s texted picture and sees the behemoth nest on the building’s roof. Up until this point, Dorrian is described as a legendary hero of sorts. He trained in both physical and magical combat with his parents, and since The Fall, he’s accomplished battle feats it would take ten regular fighters to do. So how, if he’s so amazing, did he not see the giant nest of creatures on the rooftop he spent so long staring at? It was at this point that I started to question everything I was reading.
I would love to say my confusion stopped with the characters, but I can’t. The magic in this world also tripped me up a lot. The basic use of magic was mostly clear. For example, water power was more effective in the rain. Makes sense. I wish the rest had been so simple. While traversing the intact building, Dorrian stumbles across a cat. He can’t understand why the cat’s mystic powers aren’t working, which made me wonder what mystic powers cats possessed. When he realizes the cat is pregnant, all becomes clear. Apparently, pregnancy interrupts the mystical abilities of cats. I have no idea why. I also have no idea what these mystical abilities are.
There is an array of creatures in this post-apocalyptic world. Among these are behemoths, giant creatures with four legs that can fly and wield magic, and fiends, nocturnal demon-like things that make going out at night perilous at best. The creatures and spells in this book were referred to in terms of levels, such as a “high levelled threat.” This made me feel like I was in a video game or Dungeons and Dragons handbook. Add in the lack of logic and wandering storyline, and I was just confused from start to finish.
The book was short—less than 50 pages. Due to the vast amount of grammatical and spelling mistakes, however, it took me a long time to get through the entire thing. For the poor editing, lack of cohesive story, and confusion, I rate Anhedonia 1 out of 4 stars. I briefly considered giving it 2 for a good concept, but the negatives ended up outweighing that one positive too much. I really don’t recommend this book in its current form. If you are a fan of flashy fight sequences or stories that read like video games, you might enjoy this. There is a tiny bit of strong language, and the fight scenes aren’t really graphic. So, this is suitable for older teens and adults, but unless something in here really strikes your fancy, I’d say skip this one.
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