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Good but not perfect.,
This review is from: The Hole (Kindle Edition)I'll let you in on a secret - I'm bored of zombies. After a decade of being in love with shambling corpses and brain-eating monsters, I've had enough. Why have I had enough? Because there's no originality left in the genre. There's only so much you can do with a mindless horde and a group of trapped survivors before you start repeating yourself. Aaron Ross Powell is certainly guilty of this, but he also manages to give us just enough new ideas to make his new novel, THE HOLE, refreshing.
The hole isn't a typical zombie-novel and adds enough twists and turns to the plot to create something that is bordering on unique. The origins of the apocalyptic world errs more on supernatural/religious overtones than a manmade virus or alien flu. I think it is this choice that allows the novel to achieve success and builds a foreboding atmosphere of rapture and damnation.
The plot isn't without clichés however. The two main characters follow the tried-and-tested `cross-country' journey, where they encounter the horror and destruction on a national scale as they seek a final destination. This is a good way to set up some epic set pieces and a wider arcing world for the characters to inhabit, but I couldn't help think that I had been on the journey before - from Blake Crouch's RUN to Brian Keene's THE RISING.
The cliché's continue as the two main protagonists seek refuge with a `closed community' of other survivors and this is again a premise I have seen countless times before. Fortunately, that is where things start to get fresh and interesting. The community of survivors are not just strange and overbearing, they are involved in occult practises that are at first unclear but later become evident. It is here that Powell weaves an interesting and unique tale of human endeavour and faith. Some may say that THE HOLE is an overtly religious novel, but I don't think so. The story is more about the human spirit and what happens to us after death.
My main criticism would be that THE HOLE begins very slowly and the characters don't immediately make themselves likeable - seeming far too ordinary to interest. But, as the pages turn, the protagonists evolve and the plot sheds it clichéd foundations and manages to build something unique and worthwhile. While THE HOLE isn't the best read I've had this year, it was one I am glad to have experienced. Get through the first act and it will definitely entertain you.