I feel pretty damn bad about having to do this post. 😦 Usually when I review a book I’ve read I can usually find plenty of good to talk about, aspects of the novel that I can tell you that I enjoyed, but this isn’t the case here. Unfortunately.
I received All of Yesterday’s Tomorrows a couple of months after I started the blog (yes, that long ago) and I did start reading it but put it down at page 29. I set the book aside because there just didn’t seem to be any emotion in the book – it was a dry read.
When I eventually came back to the book I read the next 40 pages in about 4 days – it seemed that the break I had taken from the book had really helped, and I was devouring the book, really enjoying it. (This has happened before, by the way – I had similar experiences with Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World and Steven Erikson’s The Garden of the Moon; with both, I put them down after the first chapter because they just didn’t grab me for some reason)
Let me get into what the book is about quickly, before I go on; Here’s the blurb from Amazon:
It was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. Even though he can’t spend time in the warm waters of Belize, policeman Conrad Bishop is happy to spend time with his girlfriend, Amber, at a private beachfront home in Nantucket. After a tranquil evening walking the beach, Conrad wakes at 3:00 AM, turns on the television, and hears a disturbing news report about a deadly influenza plague—the direct result of a terrorist attack on the United States.
Rushing into his bedroom, he finds his girlfriend unconscious and suffering from a high fever. When he tries to take her to the hospital, the town is in a panic. Cars clog the road, and he’s forced to return to the beach house. Amber never regains consciousness, and by that evening, she is dead.
Grief stricken, Bishop is suddenly thrust into a world that changes by the minute. Terrorists attack every major city in the United States with car bombs and invade American embassies overseas. With a small group of survivors, Conrad struggles to stay alive. His fight will take him to the very steps of the White House and have him waging a valiant crusade to keep a dying nation alive.
When Corey got in contact with me and asked me if I would mind reviewing his novel, it was this blurb that attracted me – civilization has fallen (at least, in the US) and I would journey through this new world with an interesting-sounding character. And in the end, it was the characters that ultimately sunk the book for me.
You see, I found the characters to be, in a sense, not even there – Conrad had the most depth, and I really did enjoy him as a character: here we have a man who has suddenly lost everything and is thrust into a world that is beyond bewildering. But when the other characters were introduced I found myself wishing that there weren’t any other characters in the book; I could have read the book and finished it with just Conrad to take me through it. The first character that Conrad meets, Angie, was great until their group of two became larger – from there on it was like reading a report written by a particularly dry journalist. Here’s an excerpt that illustrates what I’m getting at, and brings up a couple of other issues, too: There are now a couple of characters that have joined forces with Conrad and Angie, and one of the characters has already announced that she has fallen pregnant.
“Lori, Conrad is the leader of the group. He saved me from certain death,” Angie commented. “Oh, by the way, everyone, I was going to wait until tomorrow, but I am pregnant also.”
Conrad smiled, and then he began to cry, as did everyone else. He was embarrassed, but then after a hug from Nikki and Michael, he felt more at ease with his emotions.
“It seems we are all baring our souls tonight,” Stacy said to the group.
They all sat silent for a time, each person thinking his or her own thoughts.
“Lori, there is a man named Mel Connor, and his wife is named Lucy. They live in town,” Michael remarked.
Everyone congratulated Angie on her pregnancy.
“Two babies – this town is getting overcrowded,” Angie commented.
Everyone decided to call it a night. Conrad went up to the roof to relieve Simon, who was on watch.
Now, there’s a couple of things that should leap out immediately:
There is no real emotion at all – we are told that Conrad smiles, we don’t experience it with him. We are told that he starts crying but we don’t feel it.
Also, this seems like quite a dramatic moment – but instead of the moment being explored, Michael tells Lori about two other people that members of the group have met; Conrad doesn’t even have a moment with Angie, and he’s the father.
And the dialogue also came across as robotic; I didn’t get a sense that these people were really happy for Angie and Conrad because we are only told that they are happy, we don’t feel it with them. This also isn’t the only example I can give you – one other event that comes to mind takes place before Conrad meets Angie – he comes across two German Shepard’s and decides to look after them and train them; I was expecting that Conrad would form an emotional bond with the dogs, since they were now the only living things that he was spending time with, and not only didn’t this happen but at one point the dogs completely disappear from the narrative and then reappear later much later, almost as if they were forgotten and then remembered.
Since characters are the most important aspect of any work of fiction I just couldn’t go on reading this novel – I wasn’t connecting with any of the characters, I couldn’t sympathize with them, and I wasn’t experiencing them emotionally. 😦
It’s not all bad, though. Corey obviously put plenty of thought into this novel; there are myriad details really add to the atmosphere of the novel and illustrate what the characters have to go through, for example, Conrad and Angie cut their hair as short as possible so that they don’t have to waste water washing their hair. The novel is filled with awesome little nuggets like this and I was also impressed with the landscape detail that Corey employed – the settings were quite vivid and I was effortlessly imagining the places as Conrad travelled through what had been the USA.
Another thing, and this might seem small, is that the story itself was memorable – after almost two years I didn’t need to re-read what I had read to get back into the novel, and that’s pretty important in my opinion.
Ultimately, though, the most important aspect of the novel -the characters themselves- let me down, to such a degree that I lost interest completely and stopped reading the novel. I will probably pick up the novel again some time and give it another go and my opinion might change, but at the moment, this novel was just too disappointing. I was expecting not only a descriptive and memorable read (which I did get) but an emotional read, too, but I felt very little while reading this novel.
4 / 10