After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That's the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating...monsters.
Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life--a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.
Author: Michelle K. Pickett
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Apocalyptic Sci-Fi/Dystopia (YA?)
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Recommended Reading: 15+
Contains no spoilers
THE GIST: Tough book to rate! PODs is a very, very nice concept with a good story, but several scenes I can’t bring myself to call romantic. One thing this author definitely does right is she gets to the point and moves on, which is nice compared to some authors who meddle too long in each scene causing the dreaded snooze-fest. Sometimes the scenes were a bit too short and choppy. Nevertheless, PODs truly held my interest and strongly engaged my imagination. This is a solid 4-star book because of the great entertainment value and quick pace, plus it was creative and engaging. As I’ve said several times before, I’m looking to be entertained, and I was.
SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it’s in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it’s a balm for the broken soul.
After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That’s the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating… monsters.
Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life–a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure. (Goodreads)
BREAKDOWN: In the beginning of PODs, I found myself reminded of the movie Deep Impact where there’s a government raffle that determines which citizens are “saved” in an underground shelter that can only hold a small fraction of the country’s population. It’s similar and I was intrigued. The set up was very engaging and well-played.
Most YA dystopias that are set in a futuristic United States are usually set far enough into the future that it doesn’t matter if the country in the book resembles the country we live in today. PODs, however, starts off in modern day USA as we know it. To a degree, it makes the situation feel a little more real, but I couldn’t buy into it. I’m not in a place where I can believe our nation could turn into the dystopian government described in PODs overnight as it does in the story. One day it’s the United States of America, the next, it’s your typical controlling, faceless government. Why didn’t these people scream for their rights? Question what was being imposed on them? (Referring to the chosen survivors, not the protesters from the beginning). Perhaps this is the reaction the author wanted and I played right into her hand. Sadly, this topic was perhaps the most passionate I felt during this novel, because I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I’d wanted.
The leading lady, Eva, was good and I was interested in her journey. I just didn’t connect with her emotionally. I also didn’t connect with her love interest, David, though he was set up to be quite scrumptious. Over time, he became less and less likeable to the point of pissing me off and causing me to just brush over his intimate scenes with Eva. Which brings me to the love story.
The piece that really threatened to bring this book down was Eva and David’s relationship… Because it wasn’t romantic to me. The intimacy was a bit heavy-handed, and my problem is this is a YA book and there’s a clear limit the author has set to how far she’ll let these hormonal lovebirds go. So when they do this over and over, then force themselves to stop every time… well, it gets old. I’m not saying I want them to go farther, in fact, I’d rather they cut a lot of it out. They can’t keep their hands off each other, and it’s so overplayed, it’s not exciting to read. It’s repetitive. And with the tension in their relationship, I feel like the characters were driven by hormones way more than love. I simply felt, this perhaps was not a tale best told to a YA audience.
I know this all sounds very complain-ey, but the book has redemptive qualities, I promise! Such as: it’s really interesting! PODs puts a unique spin on the dystopian story. And I read a lot of YA dystopia and post-apocalypse. Nobody has done it quite like this author, Pickett. Her story truly feels authentic and unique. I was surprised constantly with where the story turned, and while I would’ve liked a more climactic ending, I wasn’t left unsatisfied. Honestly, the book felt a lot more like a film to me, which is not a bad thing. I might chalk up many of my complaints to the author’s style (like the large chunks off inner dialogue, the excessive love scenes, etc). Those things might be fine; just not my personal taste, but I did enjoy it, so I can’t knock the book too hard. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the apocalypse.
FINAL THOUGHTS: PODs is a fast-paced apocalyptic story with elements of dystopia; it’s a quick read with plenty of intrigue, unexpected turns, and some impressive creativity. The execution wasn’t perfect (for me), but man, there’s some good story here. I hope you’ll check it out.
(Review originally posted on GliteraryGirl.com)
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.