Thursday, 22 August 2013

Book Review: Seven Days on the Mountain by S. Scott Whitaker

Callie Grady wakes in the middle of the night to explosions and screams. It’s her birthday, but the only present she receives is the end of the world. Or so she thinks. The world is on fire and Callie and her family flee their rural town and head to the mountains where they hope to hide out in the cabin that’s been in her family for generations. Only there is a new civil war and US soldiers massacre fleeing citizens on the highway. War planes skewer the skies above. Chased into the hills, her family is attacked and her mother is killed. Helped by friends from her childhood, Callie and the surviving members of her family attempt to rebuild a life while the world rages about them. Taken to “Uncle” Jessup’s mountain home, everyone must adjust to life in the new America, where the country reels from a new civil war. The survivors rely on solar power, elbow grease, and old fashioned hard work as they try to recover from loss. However, isolation from the world isn’t all bad, as “Uncle” Jessup teaches them to hunt, fish, and scout the mountain and Callie wrestles with idea that she may be attracted to her childhood friend Alex Jessup, or Johnny Penny, or even worse, both of them.

It isn’t long before danger threatens and Callie, Alex, and Johnny are forced into the wilderness by marauding soldiers bent on establishing control of the mountain. They leave behind a dying “Uncle” Jess, his wife, and Callie’s father and brother. The last thing they see before they leave is the steady approach of deserted soldiers. Deep in the woods, the fate of their loved ones weighs upon them and soon Callie, Alex, and Johnny decide to return to either save their family and friends or die trying. However the mountain has other things in mind. Winter hurls snow and ice upon them. A deranged madman holds up in a fire watch post and sets a trap for the unsuspecting heroes; an aging actress holds court in the mysterious ruins of an apple orchard, a haunted cabin and insane bear bar the way up mountain while the back roads teem with bands of bored soldiers with itchy trigger fingers.

Will Callie and her friends survive the journey up the mountain?

Will there by anyone alive when they reach their destination?

Based on The Odyssey, part frontier adventure, part action thriller, part teen romance; this new action thriller will delight fans of any age and gender.

Where can I buy this book? 

My review:
*I received a free copy of this book from the author through Apocalypse Whenever in exchange for an honest review*

Callie and her family flee their home when the civil war breaks out, going to live with family in the mountains and learning a new way of life. Soldiers hellbent on murder roam the mountain along with thieves and rapists, and hungry bears, bringing new danger to their lives.

This book had a lot of potential to be really good, if it had stuck to the survival against the odds storyline and stayed away from adding the weird stuff. The parts where they were hiding from soldiers and in danger from mad Richard were good. The hunting, the daily struggles and things like that were quite interesting as you can imagine how difficult it was for Callie to adapt. This is more what I expected the book to be, and was the reason why I wanted to review it. I had the feeling that the author couldn't quite decide what genre this was to be and it ended up trying to be too many things, not all of which worked for me.

This is where the book went wrong for me. Callie, while in danger from Richard, suddenly has a vision of a Native American at a campfire telling her what to do. Then there was Agatha's magic cult house, which was really bad and wrecked the book for me. Next was the haunted cabin with ghosts that tried to infect Alex's gunshot wound and the bear that wasn't really a bear because it was possessed by evil and bigger than the whole cabin! Seriously, that was just crazy and I switched off from it. I didn't connect with the book after that. Weird stuff in books is ok if it fits, but I didn't feel that the supernatural elements fitted comfortably when the author had spent the whole book writing in the style and language of times gone by. The two conflicting styles just didn't work. One minute the style was Ye Olde Days ie 'the way up the mountain was many' and then we had ghosts and strange bears and Callie talking like a modern young girl about boys. It just didn't gel.

I had a few other issues with it. I didn't like the way the story would jump from one time to another. First we were with Callie's family, fleeing to the mountain, then we were with Callie months later caring for people we don't know, then back to the fleeing, back to the months later story. We would see a dead body then get part of a story about how Callie met them earlier, then we jump ahead to something else. It was disjointed and didn't flow the way I like a story to flow. It was a shame that the best bits seemed to be missed out entirely. I wanted to see what happened when the soldiers followed Callie's uncle and attacked the house. I wanted to see what happened to Jack, Sarah and Angus. I wanted to know what her uncle did during his three weeks scanning the mountain on his lone adventure. I hated all the good bits being missed out while Callie was endlessly thinking whether she liked Alex or John more and hoping they would fight over her.

The spelling had plenty mistakes, some sentences had the wrong words or tense used, wrong character names used and the wording of phrases and sentence structure were strange. This I could live with but it's not ideal, though I didn't mark the book down for it. The Goodreads blurb does give away most of the story which doesn't impress me. Sometimes less is more! A few sexual references but no sexual content. It can be read by YA and adult readers.
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

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