Audiobook Review: Anywhere But Here by Jason D. Morrow
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic
Series: The Starborn Ascension #1
Publisher: Smashwords (May 25, 2014)
Tiara’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars
A review copy of this book was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Narrator: Sophie Amoss | Length: 7 hrs and 36 mins | Audiobook Publisher: Jason D. Morrow (December 18, 2015) | Whispersync Ready: Yes
Zombies. There are zombies in this book.
Despite being a fan of The Walking Dead, you all know how I feel about zombies. If you’re new in town, refer to this post. Even though I can be a bit of a killjoy about this particular genre, I’m not so obstinate that I won’t give zombie books a chance. Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised, and sometimes, I’m left thinking: “Well, that was… a zombie book.”
Anywhere But Here follows a teenaged girl named Waverly and a young woman named Remi as they navigate the zombie-infested wasteland they’ve been living in for the past three years. Waverly has been fortunate that she’s hasn’t been alone during those years, even if they’ve been unable to secure a community to live in while Remi has been living on her own wits during that time, longing for somewhere to stay. Remi’s story starts in Crestwood, a town know for taking in strangers. Waverly arrives at the town much later in the book after dealing with raiders and the death of someone close to her. The leader of Crestwood poses an interesting question to both on their arrival, “Do you have special abilities? Powers? Supernatural?”
This was not a bad book. In fact, I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting given the genre. My Kindle clocked it at about 454 pages, but the story moved quickly and didn’t dawdle about much. Even the back stories that we’re given for context are presented during points where the story is moving rather than giving readers a wall of exposition. It’s concise, to the point, and moves on with the story. The plot is familiar. Zombie stories often explore things such as morality because people and their machinations are scarier than mindless zombies. It’s typically bleak with the constant threat of raiders and starvation. There are some amenities still around such as fuel used for vehicles, electricity, and weapons, but everything is measured and used with care as you’d expect in the situation. There’s a little bit of romantic fluff in the book, but nothing that’s overwhelming. I did feel like maybe one character too easily started crushing on another character, but love in the time of zombies may warrant being hastier in these things.
Morrow does try to give some explanation for what caused the outbreak instead of just dumping readers into the story where no one knows what happened which I appreciated. (Not that I necessarily have anything against stories using the “origins unknown” angle.) He did add a twist by adding characters who have developed “powers” during this outbreak. These people are called Starborn. Calling anything Starborn during a zombie apocalypse feels a bit frilly, but thankfully, that name isn’t overused in the story. How–or why–they developed these powers isn’t explored in this book, but since this is a series, I’m expecting we’ll get an explanation in later books.
Remi and Waverly were interesting as characters. There was a little more time invested in Waverly’s story. For this reason, I connected with her more than I did Remi. This book was more focused on the “in the now,” so there isn’t a ton of character development. The action makes up for it, though. There’s always something going on in this book. One thing of note, I would’ve liked if Remi and Waverly’s stories converged a bit sooner than they did. It’s fairly easy to spot the significance the characters have to one another early in the story, but I felt like I was just listening to two separate stories about two people who happened to be inhabiting the same world for most of the book. I’m sure that was intentional, but it didn’t really work for me. It also made some of Remi’s parts feel like filler.
The narration by Sophie Amoss was top-notch. She voiced Waverly’s kindness and Remi’s tenacity well. Her characterization of other characters worked, too. You could hear the roughness in her voice with the raiders and more curmudgeonly characters. There were a couple of production quality issues in this, but nothing that was so glaring that I stopped listening.
If you regularly read zombie fiction, this may be a bit too formulaic for you, especially if you’re always looking for something innovative in the genre, but if you don’t mind tried and tested plot points coupled with fast action and a little bit of a twist, this book is worth checking out.