Premise: In a post-apocalyptic world, the zombie virus had spread and zombies run rampant. The place where Remy King and her brother Max had been living is overrun with zombies and she is forced to escape. The only problem is that she thinks Max has been taken by the soldiers there to a quarantine to the north. That is her goal, but one of the other girls there, Harlow, ends up coming with her.
Along the way, they find a zombie-eating lion (of course), which Remy quickly names Ripley after Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien. They also meet Blue, the reliable and intelligent pre-med student, and Lazlo, the former rock star. This small group encounters marauders, a religious cult, and of course zombies on the way to the quarantine where Max supposedly has been taken.
Remy must do everything she can to get to her brother, to find out where he is and what has happened to him. They hope to make it to the quarantine, but will Max be there even if they do?
Themes: Obviously, this is a story of survival. Not only must they survive zombies, but they must also survive their encounters with other people.
Hollowland is also a story of a journey. Getting from one point to another with a vehicle is one thing, but when roadblocks are thrown in the way the journey is more difficult. Going on foot becomes even more difficult when the way is teeming with zombies. It is also a journey of growth for the characters, as well.
Remy goes through a lot of self-discovery in the story, facing death, her ability to survive, be a leader, and keep other people alive. She also discovers herself as it pertains to romantic relationships. Her dislike of Lazlo is put to the test. Can she care for someone when survival is so uncertain?
Pros: If you like gory scenes of zombies being killed in strange and inventive ways, that is about all Hollowland has going for it. The other reason I even read it is that it is currently a free download on Amazon.
Cons: This is a classic case of show, don’t tell. That is, it is a case of what not to do. In a first person perspective, this book suffers from explaining things through internal monologue rather than just having them actively engage in the action. Another problem was even though this is first person, a very vital piece of information is held back until over halfway through the book, a piece of information that the protagonist knows that is only revealed seemingly when it suits the author in order to build false suspense. This is just sloppy writing, not to mention the myriad of grammar and spelling errors that plague this novel. There are more minute details that could have used some research, such as the main character sharpshooting a man off a roof a block away with a handgun. On top of all these things, we are left with a cliffhanger that requires us to read the next book in the series to find out what happens to the protagonist. The real problem is that at the end of this emotionless book with stilted prose I just didn’t care about any of the characters.
Recommendations: If you like mindless stories about zombies, this book might be for you. Its only redeeming quality is that it cost me nothing other than my time to read it. Other than that, I can think of much better books to waste time with than this. If you are going to self-publish, at least have the decency to have your books edited. I can see why Ms. Hocking had collected so many rejections by traditional publishers after reading Hollowland. I suppose she may have the last word since she has made millions in book sales, but it doesn’t make her books any better quality, at least not this one. If Hollowland is any indicator of her writing, I doubt I will ever read anything else she writes.