Audiobook Review: Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley, Rawles

8 12 2011

Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley, Rawles

Read by Dick Hill

Brilliance Audio

Length: 13 Hrs 41 Min

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Unlike Patriots, the story in Survivors is not strong enough, nor are the characters compelling enough to ignore the utterly unsubtle political and religious overtones of the novel or its overuse of uber-specific details. Hardcore Post Apocalyptic fiction fans as well as Survivalists and Fundamentalist Christians may have some fun with this novel, everyone else should probably stay away.

Grade: C-

So, if this is your first time visiting my blog, and you have never had any sort of interaction with me, whether it be through my tweeter feed, Facebook page, face to face conversations, forum postings, AIM chats, psychic visions or illegal wire tapping, well, I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret. I love to read Post Apocalyptic fiction. I know, shocker! I like these novels for many reasons. I enjoy discovering how people would survive when everything is stripped away. I enjoy the moral quandaries of the changed land and what people will and won’t do when civilization collapses. I come to reading these novels with no agendas. I don’t care if you are a pinky commie nut, or some neoconservative gun freak. I really don’t have a horse in this race. I am definitely no Survivalist who secretly dreams of the end of the world. I know that I will probably be one of the first to go in any sort of great die off. Heck, the reason I enjoy an occasional glass of wine is so that I will be properly marinated for the cannibal hordes. With Post Apocalyptic fiction, you get a lot of books slanted with political and social agendas. You have your Post Nuclear books which will show you the horrors of nuclear war. You have books that present the scary visions of what this world will be like due to climate change. Then, you have a book like Patriots by James Wesley, Rawles. Patriots is not just a story of the economic collapse that our reliance on paper money, liberal politics and moral decay is leading us to, but an almost how to guide to set up your own Post Apocalyptic bunker. Patriots was full of a lot of things that would annoy the crap out of the casual reader, but basically, I enjoyed the Survivalist story. So, I didn’t hesitate to grab its sequel, Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse. 

In Survivors we encounter a new group of survivors who must deal with the same deteriorating world as Patriots. Economic collapse due to increasing inflation leads to an America full of riots, roaming gangs, and starvation. Unlike the characters in Patriots, those we follow here in Survivors are not quite as prepared. We have a soldier in Afghanistan trying to find his way home. An air force pilot dealing with a personal tragedy and a group of teenagers ousted from their orphanage. All of them have interesting stories, and I wanted to cheer for them, but unfortunately, the book is just so full of extraneous details, and cardboard cutter characters that I became annoyed and frustrated with it. I love the Rawles did his research, and I found all the specific details added to Patriots a bit endearing, but after awhile it just gets annoying. I am fine with an author telling me that a character has a short wave radio, I don’t need to know it a Rogers SL25-Z Multi Tube transistor radio made in Franklin, Ohio by the Zeltner corporation (*Note: I made those details up.). Also, I appreciate that Rawles is a Christian, but does every character need to talk the same way about their faith. Sure, he tried to mix it up a bit, throwing in a Messianic Jew, and a Catholic who believes in a personal relationship with Christ, with no need for intersession, so basically a switch in labels and not philosophy. Oh, and the morals of these characters. Every single character was of the utmost character, always dealing with tragedy by announcing their faith in God, and praying for the bandits that just stripped them and robbed them of every thing they had. I’m sure that there are Christians out there like that, I just don’t know any. Oh, but their morality ends with their fondness for manipulating paperwork, and straight out lying in order to keep the very best arsenal possible. I have no problem with Christian characters, even fundamentalist Christians, just not the wooden, sloganeering characters who all react exactly the same when placed in horrible situations. Now, I could continue my rant by discussing the obvious political slants, with appearances by the evil Federal Government, the New World Order United Nations, and those dupes who prefer paper money over gold, but I think you get the point. Unlike Patriots, the story in Survivors is not strong enough, nor are the characters compelling enough to ignore the utterly unsubtle political and religious overtones of the novel or its overuse of uber-specific details. Hardcore Post Apocalyptic fiction fans as well as Survivalists and Fundamentalist Christians may have some fun with this novel, everyone else should probably stay away.

Dick Hill narrates the audio version of Patriots, and sadly, doesn’t have much to work with. The book is full of Spanish phrases and Hispanic characters that Hill just doesn’t give the right spin to. I like Dick Hill, but he has a specific way of emphasizing the littlest details, which works well when he is reading novels like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, but here, that emphasis just puts on display the annoying surplus of pointless details that this novel has. Unlike print novels, where you can sort of glaze over these details, in audio form you are held captive as each one is presented to you in full.  Survivors is also ultra serious, which never allows Hill to use his sardonic tones that he can pull off so well. Sometimes, even the most talented of narrators cannot overcome the limitations of the material.  On the positive side, I did make it all the way through the 13 hour + production, yet, I probably wouldn’t have made it through the print version, so, that’s worth something.

 

Note: A special thanks to the wonderful people at Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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3 responses

8 12 2011
DWD

Nice review. I was intrigued by the Twitter comment and thought that it might be interesting, but…maybe not so much.

9 12 2011
Juliana

Ooo, I’m glad you reviewed this one (although I can’t say as I’m writing my own post apocoplyptic work. I might have to peruse your site to find ones you like more, lol 😉

10 12 2011
Steven Brandt

This one caught my eye at Brilliance as well but I eventually passed it up because I hadn’t read the first one. Looks like I need to go back and look for that first one. Great review! Have you tried James Howard Kunstler’s “World Made By Hand” series, available at Blackstone?

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