Monday, 12 June 2017

REVIEW & AUTHOR INTERVIEW - THE HUMAN WILDERNESS - NEW AMERICA TRILOGY BY S.H. LIVERNOIS

Title: The Human Wilderness
Series: New America Trilogy
Author: S.H. Livernois
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror
Release Date: 5th March 2017

Blurb from Goodreads
Would you face monsters for the ones you love? 

There are no people left on Earth, except Eli Stentz and seventy-five others. They hide within the steel walls of a settlement called Hope, tormented by a horde of soulless, mutated humans who howl at their doorstep day and night. The survivors call them zombies, but the name doesn't quite fit. 

The world belongs to them now -- the Parasites. 

One day, a stranger emerges from this void with tales of survival and horror. Eli can't believe his eyes -- this man shouldn't be alive. Six years ago, humanity succumbed to a mysterious epidemic and civilization collapsed. Society never recovered, leaving the post-apocalyptic landscape a barren, dangerous wilderness. 

So why would this stranger kidnap one of Hope's children? And why Lily, a girl Eli loves like a daughter? Plagued by these questions, he has no choice but to face the monsters outside Hope's walls to rescue her and bring her home. But he doesn't expect the mystery lurking in the wilderness. 

For the world isn't empty after all -- there are more settlements. Most have abandoned American democracy, embracing a more dystopian way of life. And they are connected by a disturbing conspiracy. 

But Eli has other monsters to fight. For outside Hope's walls are the memories of his violent past. After all, no one lives through the apocalypse without getting blood on their hands. Eli knows that better than anyone. 


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I said at the end of my review for Among The Monsters, I picked this book up and read a couple of chapters straightaway. The prequel had certainly pulled me into the book setting and made me want to read more about it's characters.

I think the cover of this book is really good how it is showing "sides" for the characters contained in the book. On one side or above there are some survivors within the wilderness in silhouette. One of the silhouette's is a woman, the others I'd say (after reading the book) are male. In fact I think the humans on the cover are Eli, Frank and Jane as they do go on a "missions" together in the book, outside the safety of their settlement. Below are silhouettes of broken, deformed humans that have become infected and transformed into parasites.
In my opinion the prequel book cover and the cover for  this book fit well and certainly gel together as a series. 

The byline/beginning of the blurb really sums up the society we are about to read about in a few sentences. "It's a dangerous world. No laws. Few People. Herds of the infected. Among them; one missing child and one man who'll do anything to rescue her". It really is a fantastic description in a nutshell of the book.

As this book is part of a series, of course it is labelled similarly to Among The Monsters, as Horror and Zombies on Goodreads. However I would add this book/series to the following genres, Post apocalyptic, and Dystopian.

As I've said it was quite late at night when I finished the prequel but couldn't resist starting this one. Originally my intention was to read one chapter. . . I ended up reading two!
I did find this book a slightly slower read to get into to and was initially really disappointed that it didn't pick up where the prequel ended, or follow the main characters featured in Among The Monsters. I do feel that the prequel set the scene and background for the rest of this series, but there was the niggle I wanted to know what had happened to Rebecca, where Martha had taken her.

The first characters we meet in The Human Wilderness are Eli Stenz and Squirrel (Allen James Twoomie) both are residents in a settlement called rather ironically "Hope". Eli and Squirrel are out hunting for meat for the other people in Hope. Everyone that lives in Hope has a job to do, Eli's and Squirrel's jobs are to hunt for food and to kill parasites if they see them too. They usually keep fairly close together as two sets of eyes and ears are better than one for hearing any approaching parasites. As one bite or scratch from a parasite is enough for you to become infected and turn into a parasite yourself. This is also the reason both men have every inch of their skin covered with thick material or leather strapping to protect their skin from coming into contact with anything infected. Strangely as Eli is checking out the deer they have killed for the 6 year anniversary celebration of Hope being created but Squirrel seems to have disappeared. The men meet back up but before they can quickly retreat to Hope, unfortunately Squirrel ends up being caught by the parasites, Eli is close by and attempts to kill the parasite before it bites Squirrel but he is a second too late. Now Eli faces returning to Hope, having to tell Squirrels family and the other residents what happened, that though no one from Hope has been infected for two years, Squirrel has and is dead! People are busy with preparations for the anniversary celebration, and don't take the news very well. In fact some of the residents of Hope blame Eli.  They were already wary of him as compared to everyone else as Eli is still considered a newcomer. As Eli is a bit of a loner it gives people an excuse to think the worst of him and view him as an outsider. The people Eli does get along with are Jane, the Doctor who nursed him when he first arrived at Hope with numerous gun shot wounds. Eli also gets along well with Frank, his wife and their adopted family. 
As the community is grieving, once again Eli feels guilty as though it should have been him scratched or bitten, not Squirrel aka Allen James Twoomie who has a wife Lauren and family. The community rally around Lauren but its clear to see that they wish the one infected and dead is Eli, the quiet loner who's past they don't know. Instead of an original founding resident of Hope, that Allen James Twoomie was.
Later in the book we learn that Franks adopted daughter Lily has disappeared. Naturally Franks first thought is to go after her and he asks for people to go with him. Sadly the community attitude is if Lily is on the outside of Hope's walls if she isn't dead already she will be soon! In the end it's Eli, Frank and the Doctor Jane that go in search of Lily. They come across parasites, and even survivors pretending to be parasites, trying to steal what little food and weapons they are carrying.

So we follow Eli, Frank and Jane as they try to follow the tracks left by Lily and whoever the larger footprints belong to. Lily is quite clever as she leaves strands from her friendship bracelet for her family to find and to help guide them to her. 
We learn about Eli's dark and violent past. How he has killed when ordered to. Eli is determined to get Lily back even if it means allowing the inner monster that he has pushed deep inside himself to hide it, out once again. Eli is prepared to do whatever it takes. He has killed before and is willing to kill again if it means getting Lily back.

After a turbulent journey Eli finds out who Lily is being taken to, a woman called Olive who lives in Grants Hill. However Olive is only collecting the girls and supposedly keeping them safe for "the saviour". By this time in his arduous journey, and having a little more insight into what the girls are being used for by Olive and her army of men, Eli is determined to save all the girls or as many as possible.

The Saviour turns out to be a face from the past that Eli would really rather have not seen ever again. The Saviour is from Eli's past when he killed to order with no question. Will the Saviour recognise Eli? and take this opportunity to have revenge?

There's so much happening in this book, it's action packed really. I found this book to be a fast read. Seriously I read this one late into the night, I didn't want to put it down. I still have questions from this book about exactly what the Saviour intends to do with the girls as it certainly seem it isn't the same as what Olive has used them for. I am also looking forward to delving even more into Eli's history. I hope the next book tells more of the girls stories and we catch up with the girls we met in the prequel. Other things I'd be interested in knowing are related to the the questions the characters ask each other about the parasites. I'd like discover if parasites have any senses left such as smell and touch? Do they remember who they were before? Do they have emotions? Do they feel pain? etc

My immediate final thoughts upon finishing this book were that this book was a great dystopian/post apocalyptic and I am already looking forward to reading bk2 when it's available.


AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Could you tell us a little about The Human Wilderness Bk1 in your A New America Trilogy?
This is the first book I've written, and I began developing it in 2014. That year I decided to try NaNoWriMo (an annual writing competition that challenges new writers to write a book in a month) and I wrote and finished a post-apocalyptic novel that will never see the light of day. It wasn't very good, and I actually lost my original manuscript (which was probably a good thing) when my portable hard drive up and quit. That inspired me to rethink the story completely. Around the same time, I finally started watching The Walking Dead, and after a couple months serious binge-watching, I decided I wanted to write my own zombie apocalypse story. But I wanted to do it better; I just didn't think the "Walkers" were very threatening.  So I began brainstorming. It took a few incarnations before I came up with the story that became The Human Wilderness. I basically learned how to write a novel, while writing that book, so it took a while. Thank God for patient editors.
I am yet to watch The Walking Dead, I keep saying I am going to then getting distracted by other things instead.

Was the prequel “Among The Monsters” written before Bk1 in your A New America Series? Will there be any more novellas to go with this Trilogy?
The prequel was actually written after I'd finished The Human Wilderness. I wanted to create a story that could act as an invitation into the world I'd created, with the hope that it would encourage readers to pick up the book. I'd brainstormed many different prequel stories -- one from the perspective of a Parasite, another featuring Quinn -- but I kept going back to Rebecca. She's an interesting character and one who will be more prevalent in book two as a formidable antagonist, which is why I wanted to feature her story in the prequel.
Yes, I hope to write more short stories/novellas for this trilogy. I'd like to write something that can be published between book one and two, and also between book two and three, as a way to both offer readers different perspectives into the story and to keep people entertained while they wait for the second book.
I was wanting to read The Human Wilderness but the reason I read Aomng The Monsters first was so I could get a feel for the society etc.

Would you also tell us a little bit about the A New America Trilogy as a whole?
I don't want to give away too much, but the trilogy is meant to explore the idea of what happens between the end of civilization and its rebuilding as a dystopian regime. So many post-apocalyptic movies and novels envision the America of the future as being a dystopia. I wanted to write a story about how society gets to that point.

Where did you get your book plot ideas from for the A New America Trilogy? What/Who is your inspiration?
I'm not really sure where my ideas come from, honestly. I do a lot of brainstorming and really try to logically work out where a story will go next. I follow my instincts and ask questions, and see where that leads. But the initial story idea, for the most part, seems to just arise into my mind without much work. This story was a little different. I set out to specifically write a post-apocalyptic story, because the genre is fascinating  to me. That's where I started, and I just asked questions and brainstormed until I had a plot.

Do you basic plot/plan for each individual book in turn through the series before you actually begin writing any of it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story on a book by book basis?
I outline extensively before I write a single word. I actually consider the outline a first draft, because it's so detailed, and this is always reviewed by an editor. That way, the story is pretty much complete by the time I start writing; I cannot write any other way. If there are problems, rearranging a story is far too difficult after the story has been written. When I wrote Book One, I had a pretty solid idea of what I wanted Book Two to be like, so I could outline and write accordingly. And now that I've pretty much finished outlining Book Two, I have a solid idea of where I want Book Three to go. And I know how the entire trilogy will end. I think many people misunderstand outlining and think that it stifles creativity, but I feel it's just the opposite. Outlining is fun because it's so free. I let my ideas take me where they need to flow in the outlining stage. When the writing starts, there's still a lot of improvisation, because the characters start taking on their roles and moving across the page, and though they have specific steps to take, they still follow it in their own way.

How did you come up with the Title’s and Cover Designs for your A New America Trilogy (including Among The Monsters”)? Do you have a lot of input into the process?
I tried to come up with a title in a methodical way, but it didn't work at all. Eventually, like my writing process, the title just popped into my head. The cover for Among the Monsters was my own design, and I had a vague idea of what I wanted it to look like. Same with the cover for the book -- I had vision of what it would look like. However, the cover was too important to tackle myself, so I reached out to a cover designer; the cover was pre-made, but for extra cost I could suggest tweaks, which I did. The final product is the result.
I love both covers!

Could you give a rough release schedule and titles of the other books in the A New America Trilogy?

I just finished the outline for Book Two and it's with my editor. Depending on how many changes she suggests, I'd like to start writing it next month. It could take me four months or so to write (I do have a full time job). Hopefully that puts me on track to have Book Two done by the end of the year. I'd expect a similar schedule for Book Three -- published by the end of next year. However, that's a very loose schedule, and there's another project I'd like to start during that time as well.
I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the rest of the New America Trilogy series, as I loved both Among The Monsters and The Human Wilderness! Thankyou for taking the time for take part in this Interview! ~Jeanz






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