4 out of 4 stars
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Torn apart by a strange plague that has overrun the Earth, brothers Conner and Tyson Weston will stop at nothing to get back to each other. Most of the world’s population has been transformed into zombie-like creatures, aimlessly attacking anything that breathes. The brothers were separated while fleeing for their lives at the start of the outbreak, circa 2080. Now, on opposite ends of the world and without any form of communication, reunification seems unattainable.
In Australia, Tyson is a soldier volunteering for the EVD (Earth’s Viral Defenses). In California, Conner is entirely on his own, having not seen a friendly face in a very long time. Both brothers are fighting to survive with the end goal of finding the other. They have one connection in mind – a band of mercenaries tasked with the protection of Earth and what’s left of the population. The Thirteen. Somehow, they both know that if they can find the Thirteen, they will find each other.
I was excited to read Thir13en. The author, Keegan Nielson, says that it’s an amalgamation of his favourite genres: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and action-adventure. I mean, what else could I possibly want from a book? After having finished the story, I can happily say that he delivered in every aspect of every genre.
This story starts out fast and picks up speed as it goes along. There was not one moment where I thought, ‘Oh, thank goodness, they can breathe.’ It is a whirlwind of a book that keeps you craving the next page. Nielson manages to keep the storyline fluctuating by introducing the craziest elements at every turn. Somehow, he also manages to ensure that the craziest things also belong. It’s been assembled brilliantly.
He took his time with introducing his characters. I felt like I knew both Conner and Tyson personally, and their tribulations became my own. Aside from the two main characters, the secondary characters were also distinctly crafted, and the time Nielson took to present them all made the read that much more enjoyable.
Because of the hectic storyline, I would have enjoyed there to have been more ‘fluff.’ By this, I mean that Nielson clearly got so into weaving his tale, that towards the end, he forgot to include pivotal emotions and fell into the ‘show, don’t tell’ trap. Thankfully, up until a certain point, he had built the characters and their foundations solidly enough that I was able to overlook this. It did, however, make the story seem rushed through the final quarter.
Nonetheless, I would still wholeheartedly recommend this book. I am a sci-fi junkie, and this was right up my alley. This is an easy four out of four stars for me. Even with the slight faux pas mentioned, as a first book, I see this author only going from strength to strength and I look forward to anything he writes next. So, any sci-fi nutters like me, give this one a go! You won’t be sorry.
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