Audiobook Review: Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

10 05 2012

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking (The Hollows, Bk. 1)

Read by Eileen Stevens

Audible, Inc.

Length: 7 Hrs 36 Min

Genre: Young Adult Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: Hollowland is a great introductory novel for those who are looking to stick their toes into the Zombie subgenre. It’s an exciting apocalyptic road trip, with Zombie action that is bloodcurdling and intense but not overly gory. Long time obsessive Zombie enthusiast will find its themes and scenarios familiar, and not wholly original, but if they are looking for a comfortable, surface level Young Adult Zombie road novel, Hollowland is worth the trip.

Grade: B

One of the problems spending an entire month celebrating zombie fiction on your blog for Zombie Awareness Month is that along with that, you will be spending an entire month listening and reading almost entirely zombie fiction. Now, I’m not complaining. The reason I am doing this is because I love zombie tales, yet, typically they are spread out within my reading lists. In an average month I listen to around 15 audiobooks and read two to three print novels and a few novellas. Just in audiobooks alone, over the span of this event, I will probably be listening to somewhere between 120-150 hours of cannibalistic undead, crafty survivalists, crazy apocalyptic cults, and intestine rending, brain eating action. So in order keep from viewing my next zombie read or listen as work, I have been looking for a bit of variety in my zombie choices. So, along with the Zombie Road trips, and Zombie proof bunkers, I’m looking for Zombie perspective tales, comedic zombie novels, and even romantic zombie novels. One of the sub-categories of Zombie literature I wanted to focus a bit more on was Young Adult zombie novels. In the past, I have listened to Jonathon Maberry’s Rot & Ruin and Ilsa J Bick’s Ashes, but haven’t explored much beyond that in the Young Adult Undead world. After doing some research, and asking for some suggestions, I found a few YA zombie titles for Zombie Awareness Month. I think taking on the Zombie Apocalypse from a teenage perspective is actually quite apt, because, like everyone else, Zombies prefer their meat fresh.

Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland is the first novel in her Zombie Apocalypse series featuring a young teenage protagonist named Remy White. Narrowly escaping from a government quarantine compound which was overrun by zombies, Remy leads a small group across an apocalyptic landscape in search of the safe government facility her younger brother was sent to. Hollowland is a pretty standard by-the-number Zombie Apocalypse novel. You won’t find too much new ground broken here.  As Remy leads her group, you encounter many of the Post Apocalyptic staples, and evacuated iconic city, violent marauders, small self contained compounds, and apocalyptic cultists. Despite a relatively generic plot, it’s actually a whole lot of fun. If Hocking’s goal was to tell an exciting, fun filled Zombie tale, full of adventure, that would be a great introduction for teenagers to the subgenre, then she definitely succeeds.  Remy White is a well drawn character. She is neither hero nor villain, just a Survivor who is willing to do what it takes to keep her and those she cares about safe. Hocking creates a group of characters that are entertaining, and frustrating, which include a former young rock star, a medical student, and a young impressionable, and volatile teenage girl. Hocking’s female characters are better drawn then her male characters. I found Remy and Harlow to be believable characters, Remy being the tough as nails survivalist, and Harlow her young petulant shadow who just wants to be a normal teenage girl. The boys I found a little bit cookie cutter and less interesting, and this caused me to struggle a bit with some of the romantic elements of the novel. I found Remy’s main love interest to be sort of bland and needy. Of course, I tend not to be a huge romance fan anyway, so there wasn’t much of a loss there. Luckily, the romantic parts were minor and never were a major factor in the narrative. Hollowland is a great introductory novel for those who are looking to stick their toes into the Zombie subgenre. It’s an exciting apocalyptic road trip, with Zombie action that is bloodcurdling and intense but not overly gory. Long time obsessive Zombie enthusiast will find its themes and scenarios familiar, and not wholly original, but if they are looking for a comfortable, surface level Young Adult Zombie road novel, Hollowland is worth the trip. 

Eileen Stevens capably handles the narration for Hollowland. She delivers a measured, even handed reading to the text.  Stevens does a good job capturing Remy’s character, touching the depths of her character. She also nails the sometimes bratty, sometimes vulnerable Harlow. Her male voices weren’t as well developed, often times I had trouble determining which of the teenage mail characters were speaking during some of the more lengthy bits of dialogue. Her pacing was appropriate to the text, never rushing the narrative, allowing the action scenes to play out in their own way. Overall, I feel Stevens gave a strong performance with the tale. Her small weaknesses were more than made up by the depths she gives the female characters, and her crisp, easily understood narrative voice.

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