PODs by Michelle K. Pickett
Once upon a time there was a book that should have turned me off completely after fifty pages. Its name was PODs. PODs was an interesting little book with teenage naïveté, superviruses, questionable government policy, awful roommates, young love, action, zombies, and cringe-worthy science. Despite the strange formula, I still fell in love with the book.
The main character, Evangeline aka Eva, isn't the perfect character, but she's one that I connected with and cared about though I can't exactly pinpoint why. I shouldn't have liked her, per my inconsistent taste. She was the embodiment of that aforementioned teenage naïveté. Her parents sprung a family game night with no electronics on her when she saw them worrying over something they were watching on television, and she went along with it, despite never having one before. That was her general behavior in the book, but it read more as "go with the flow" than a mindless sheep routine. What I really had trouble with was her treatment of her BFF, Bridget, at the start of the book. It wasn't godawful, but it lingered.
The questionable government policy comes into play with its treatment of the supervirus outbreak. Not for a minute do I believe that a government - especially the United States government - would instigate a mass panic by saying they allowed a incurable virus to enter the country. You know, because that's what would happen if someone official went on TV, radio, whatever and said, "Hey, we have this going on, and there's nothing we can do about it. You're all going to die." This is no spoiler; it all happens within the first twenty or so pages. In reality, there would be denials, promises/hope for a cure or immunization, more denial, and quarantine of any person/region exposed to it, especially if it spreads. (What small experience I have with serious infectious disease is the CDC jumping in quickly and taking care of shit. Trust me.) The publicized lottery system was hard to set aside doubt for, even in a science fiction novel. These government slip-ups would have rioting, mayhem, and panic befitting a modern day French Revolution meets the Salem Witch Hunt. Yes, there was some commotion in the book, but not nearly enough to make it believable. But that's just my opinion.
The next main section of PODs, after the questionable outbreak and policy, is the time Eva spends in the POD system and her roommates who share her confinement. She's there with three and a half other girls (one is gestating) and five boys. There were a few things that had me raising my eyebrow about how this was supposed to work out. First, I want to know why Eva had to have birth control while Tiffany came in pregnant. The girls in the PODs were given periodical birth control shots, basically whether they wanted it or not. Second, there was never any mention, that I recall, of them being given antidepressants. These people had just separated from their families, leaving them for certain death, and locked in an underground apartment for a year. Going without direct sunlight alone is enough to make people depressed or suicidal, but everything going on should have made at least a few of these kids nutjobs. (Josh was the only one behaving realistically.) I thought that this was something that was missing from the book, or even mentioning cabin fever, because there's no way that nine roommates and the POD intranet would be enough to keep them from becoming stir-crazy. Also, there was a bit of romance, but I know teenagers (I used to be one), and it would have been A LOT steamier in that sub-POD thing. They don't care if someone hears or sees them. I found that out the hard way.
In fear of this starting to sound like I hated PODs (I promise I didn't - it's really quite good), I'm going to tell you a few things that I did like. *throws away list of other concerns* Eva was a strong-willed and likable heroine. She knew what she wanted, what she didn't, and was a very friendly girl. After she left the POD, she just wasn't jiving with how the new communities were working. When faced with choosing between safety and a loved one, she really did make the best decision for her own life. Another thing about PODs that I liked was the writing. There was just something about it (I didn't try to pinpoint it) that made it all work, despite the issues that would have ended with a lesser book trashed. Pickett was able to suck me into the story and make me yearn to find out more. I couldn't have stopped reading PODs and walk away at any point. The last awesome thing that stuck with me was the zombie treatment. I can't tell you exactly what it is because of spoilers, but I like the concept. I haven't read a lot of zombie novels, so it may have been used before, but it's new to me.
So to end this story of PODs, the little book that shouldn't have worked, I want you to know that it DID work, and I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel. I think zombie lovers and fans of the apocalypse both with enjoy this novel. I know I did.
- 3/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.
August 12, 2013