Monday 12 September 2011

Review: POD by Stephen Wallenfels

PodPod by Stephen Wallenfels

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars


From Goodreads:
PODs - strange alien spheres hover menacingly in the sky, zapping anyone who ventures outside.

Josh is 15 and stuck in his house with his OCD dad. They're running out of food... Megs is 12, alone and trapped in a multi-storey carpark. The hotel next door is under the control of dangerous security staff, but Megs has something they want, and they'll do anything to get it...
When the aliens invade, the real enemy becomes humanity itself.
What would you do to survive?

In this new YA sci-fi thriller, Earth has been invaded by thousands of giant black hovering pods in the sky, and anyone who was outside on the morning they arrived just disappears. Anyone who ventures outside also disappears. None of the phones, radios and TVs work. Anyone who survived is trapped where they are.

POD is told through the eyes of two characters completely unconnected and miles apart- 15 year old Josh who is trapped inside his house with his neurotic father, and 12 year old Megs, who is left in a multi-story car park. Megs is so naive and this makes her very endearing but she quickly toughens up and learns to fend for herself and scrounge/rummage through the other cars for supplies, and new hiding places from the hotel security staff next door who have taken advantage of the situation and become little dictators. A lot of Meg's story os focused on the security staff as the enemy, and not the PODs at all. Josh's main enemy is boredom, and trying to live with the company of just his father- who has very set ideas about what they should be doing. Because I loved and connected with these characters I spent the book tense with fear at what was going to happen to them.

I really liked the dual narrative of this book. Because the narrative is only told through these two voices we have no idea what is really happening, what the strange noises mean and what is happening in the wider world- what the governments are doing about the PODs and how far reaching it is. There is no TV news, no radio, and no phones, and so the range of Josh's knowledge about what is happening is limited to how far down the road he can see through the window. It is the unknown that makes this such a good and tense novel. As the weeks drag on and food and water starts to run low and there is still no sign of the aliens advancing any further, the sense of desperation and frustration increases and the worry over what will happen to them next is a constant theme. Despite the narrowness of the setting (some people trapped indoors), I found the whole book really pacy and exciting, and the constant switching between Meg's story and Josh's worked really well.

This is a fantastic, gripping, emotional and thought-provoking book that is sometimes harsh but ultimately very clever. I loved it. And I think it would appeal even to those who are not usually fans of sci-fi novels simply because the focus is on such a small group of people and their battle to survive- showing us the best and worst of human nature pushed to the limit. There is a great sense of humanity and solidarity that is universal. A stunning debut novel.

1 comment:

  1. I've not heard of this one before but it sounds very good. After what I've read myself, YA sci-fi seems to be something I could really enjoy. I'll have to keep my eyes open for this one :)


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