Find Me by Laura van den Berg

Click to Order from Waterstones

In a hospital in Kansas there are a select group of patients that all seem to be immune to the epidemic sweeping Amercia. A sickness that begins with silver blisters and memory loss and ends with death has devasted the United States but these patients and their unorthodox Doctor might hold the key to a cure.

One of the patients is Joy. Before she came to the hospital she had a disatisfying job and an addiction to cough syrup. She’d never had much of a life having been in care and foster homes throughout her childhood so she’d figured a few weeks in hospital would be an easy gig. But it isn’t long until their isolation leaves all the patients longing for the outside.

Joy is an interesting protagonist, her flaws and vulnerabilities take centre stage and really are what push her forward in this strange adventure.

This is very much a book of two halves though, I enjoyed the first half set in the hospital, Laura Van Den Berg’s odd, almost dream-like writing style works well set against the institutional structure and feels right expressing Dr Bek’s treatment. But the second half of the book where Joy is trying to travel across the country it seems to lose it’s way a bit. Particularly when she meets another healer with a similar methodology to Dr Bek. It feels a bit repetitious and as the book ended just as she was about to find (or not find) the person she was looking for , it also felt a bit pointless.

I can be a fan of the ambiguous ending when it’s done well, but in this case because there was so much meandering in the second half of the book I really felt it needed a solid ending.

3 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Tremor By Ryan Mark

tremor-mark-ryanTremor by Ryan Mark is a fiction book aimed at young teens.  The story is set in a dystopian future where a war has been fought over fossil fuels. As with the rest of the world, England is without Government and everything is falling apart, literally. Since the end of the war, every so often the ground shakes, due to the left over effects of the bombing. Buildings crumble and the earth splits open.

The only organisation left is Terrafall. Created to help the remnants of the population, it has put itself in charge of law and order and  rationing. However, they have become much more ambitious and it looks as though they want total control.

The young hero of the story, William, experiences fear, loss and danger in his quest to find out what happened to his parents. His travels, accompanied by his best friend Althea and her brother Orli, include bus rides through desolated landscapes, bandit infested forests and crumbling towns and villages. The group eventually finds out who is really behind the abductions and the truth leads them in to a great battle.

Want to find out more? Good, because this book is only 273 pages long and you’ll end up reading it in almost one go. Mostly because you care about the characters. That, and the fact that the story moves on at a fair pace  – you don’t want to put the book down!

What I really like about this book is that it met my expectations. It’s aimed at young adults and hits the mark dead on. The hero is a young teen, his friends are teens and the adults are there in a supportive role. We experience his emotions, fears and memories as the story develops. His character develops as he meets each and every challenge.

As with most young adult books, the plot is singular. The aim is to go from point A to point B.  For a ‘young adult’ reader, what is important is what happens to the hero between those points. How he deals with each difficulty, what he experiences and what he has to overcome. Normally that would involve friends and family, as is the case with this book.

A common trait amongst young adult books is that, once the initial challenge or mystery has been dealt with we find out that there is something bigger yet to come.  They have explored a small part of something that is larger than they could imagine. We’ve seen this in the Hunger Games and the Maze Runner.

Ryan Mark has followed suit and in my opinion, has done it very well. Of course I’m not going to tell you more about that. Best you go find out yourself!

Ryan has been writing since 16 and at 26, he has a very bright future ahead of him. He’s good with characters and world building. I was slightly disappointed with the major plot revelation but then I would be, I’m not a young adult! For target audience though, it’s not too bad and does provide the motivation for many of the characters.

All in all, this is a good first book from an aspiring author. As an adult I found it entertaining and I’m glad I read it.

A solid 4/5 for a well written book from an up and coming author.

Bob Toovey
I started reading Sci Fi at around age 8, I’ve never looked back since. I was highly influenced by my father’s reading choices at the beginning. I soon branched out to many different authors and Sci Fi genre’s. Early influences include Asimov, Clark, Simak, PKD and other ‘golden age’ authors. On occasion, I like a good spy book and currently finding early religious history a fascinating subject – despite being an atheist.