Tag Archives: apocalypse

Review of Hell Divers (I, II & III), by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

I won a copy of Hell Divers II (by Nicholas Sansbury Smith) through Goodreads. But I didn’t want to read it until I’d read the first one. So, I borrowed an audio version of Hell Divers through Hoopla and then I just sort of kept going until I reached Hell Divers III, whew I stopped. 

Hell Divers:

I went into this skeptical. I expected a lot of male bravado and that too often equals toxicity. But I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was still a little heavy on the importance of a man’s duty and the stabilizing influence of family (even if family was usually just the tragedy that spurn men to action and fairly cardboard in actuality). But there was also some depth to the story. I appreciated the difference in perspective of the upper-deckers and the lower-deckers, and how having a limited perspective (especially if you don’t know it is limited) can be dangerous, even to the righteous.

I did find the suspension of dis-belief necessary to believe a whole mutated species developed and bred widely enough to infect at least two distant cities without anyone noticing or ever encountering them a little hard to come by. If Hell Divers have the brief life expectancy they’re said to have, then they must dive relatively frequently.

All in all, I enjoyed it and don’t dread reading book two. And R. C. Bray did a nice job with the narration. He occasionally sounded a little machine-like, as if he was imitating a computer or robot, but not too often. I look forward to book II.


I didn’t appreciate this second book as much as the first. I thought the characters’ motivations more cliched and the characters themselves not as interesting. Plus, Xavier is barely in it.

Having said all that, I did still like it. I’m still invested in the story and one of my questions from book one was partially addressed, how the Sirens evolved so quickly. I have no complaints about Bray’s narration and all in all, I’m up for book three.


I wouldn’t say this was bad. It was structurally and editorially sound. However, I found the characters’ motivations even shallower than in book two. And I commented on how much more cliched I found the motivations in book two than in book one. So, we’re pretty far down the relatable, investment scale by book three here. Honestly, I was just plain bored with it. Unlike the first book, there was nothing new or interesting here. I don’t feel any pressing need to continue the series. Bray still did fine with the narration though. 

Review of Zoey and the Zombies: A Mondamin Court Adventure, by R. J. Eliason


I won a paperback copy of Zoey and the Zombies: A Mondamin Court Adventure, by R. J. Eliason, through Goodreads.

The world is over ran with undead. Giant hordes of zombies are pouring out of the East Coast, threatening the Midwest. The defense of Mondamin Court, a quiet neighborhood in Des Moines, Iowa is up to a disabled cop, a fourteen year old boy and a transgender girl. What could go wrong? Mondamin Court is a typical lower middle class neighborhood in a midwestern city. The people are a cross section of normal Americans. Each book starts with the same setting and characters but they face a different apocalyptic scenario.

I found this enjoyable. I really appreciated that it took on some serious themes and included some intriguing human/social insights. But the only thing that separates it from a hundred other zombie survivor books is the presence of a prominent lesbian couple and a trans character (who is admittedly badass).

These inclusions are great, but not enough to carry a book. Unfortunately, I kind of felt like the author expected it to. She went to great efforts to include several diverse characters, as well as do things like present a prostitute in a humanized light, which is unusual and, again, great. But unfortunately she fell prey to as many stereo-types as she upended and eventually the variety felt forced. Partly because there are about a million characters to diversify. Far, far, far, far, far, far too many characters are in this book. I very quickly gave up on keeping track of who was who, outside of the main ones.

The main characters were varied and some of them were complex, flawed but redeemable. Others, not so much, but with so many I don’t know that it would be possible to flesh them all out. A lot of them, especially the young, were forced to consider heavy ideas and I liked how a lot of it was handled.

There are some pretty significant plot holes and, despite the blurb describing the people of Mondamin Court as “a cross section of normal America,” they seemed to have unusual and convenient skills to survive the zombie apocalypse, not so normal really. How many of your suburban neighbors know how to use a halbert, own katana or wakizashi, or happen to take belly dancing that includes scimitars, or are fully prepared preppers with hydroponic stations, know how to can and stretch rations almost indefinitely, or keep goats?

All in all, when I look at technicality I find complaints, but if I stand back and just think about my reading experience, it’s more positive than not.

On a side note, not even really as part of my review, I couldn’t help noticing some odd formatting in the book.


Here is an example. The font size changed, as did the justification of the margins and I think the line spacing. Again, it’s just something I noticed. It didn’t really effect the reading experience other than occasionally being pulled out of the story by a double indention or style change. *shrug*

What I’m drinking: What the English might call Builder’s tea. One inexpensive bag of black tea, quite strong and a dash of milk. This is one of my comfort drinks. These days, I’m often off dairy. So, I don’t drink it as often. But for pure, melt into the couch relaxation, it’s my go-to drink.